Marine Protected Area Governance

Marine Protected Area Governance (MPAG)


Whilst there is currently a range of guidance available on how to manage marine protected areas (MPAs), there is less guidance available that considers MPAs from a governance perspective. This perspective poses a key question – how do we combine top-down, bottom-up and market approaches for reaching and implementing decisions in order to achieve effective and equitable MPAs? It is widely accepted that all three approaches are important, but how might they be combined in different MPA contexts?

To tackle this question a new partnership amongst a group of governance experts, led by Dr Peter JS Jones (Dept of Geography, University College London), in collaboration with Dr Elizabeth De Santo, Dr Wanfei Qiu, and MPA planners and managers, was established to analyse MPA case studies and develop guidance on governing MPAs in seas under national jurisdiction. 20 MPA case study from around the world have been brought together in the preliminary phase and subjected to detailed analysis employing a new governance analysis framework, ‘deconstructing’ the complexities of MPA governance (MPAG) employing 36 incentives from five categories. The report below describes the findings of this work. It is intended to provide a foundation for further discussion and learning, employing the governance analysis framework in different contexts, and to provide a preliminary resource for MPA managers to consider how different incentives might be combined to support the governance of their MPA.

Recent developments

  • Comprehensive and positive review of book by Bob Earll: "This book does the rare thing of putting the social into the socio-ecology of protected areas and  provides valuable insights into natural resource management  in general... This is a very significant book providing clarity of structure, evidence and insight into the neglected area of social science and marine protected areas. This insight has a value way beyond MPAs, to marine conservation and environmental issues in general"
  • Presentation based on recent book at Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia: Governing MPAs: resilience through diversity (28 July 2014). This presentation argues that governance systems tend to be more resilient to the driving forces that can challenge the fulfillment of conservation objectives where a larger diversity of different incentives are used in combination. It discussed how this is analogous to ecological systems, which tend to be more resilient where a larger diversity of species is present.
  • Interview in MPA News drawing on Governing MPAs book -  Achieving conservation objectives and social equity goals
  • Book detailed below briefly reviewed in Nature on 20 March (Vol 507, p.305): Barbara Kiser notes that MPAs cover little more than 2% of the world's oceans despite an internationally agreed target of 10% by 2020. As many scientists have found, thousands of those that do exist are also little more than 'paper parks'. She adds: "Entering these choppy waters is geographer Peter Jones, who shows, through some 20 case studies, how and how not to govern MPAs effectively. Jones compellingly concludes that a diversity of incentives, from economic to social, is as essential as the diversity of the ecosystems MPAs are designed to protect."
  • New book drawing on MPAG findings - Governing Marine Protected Areas: resilience through diversity, Jones PJS, published 25 February 2014. The book is available from Earthscan/Routledge, 20% discount code DC361 taking the price to £40.00 (until 31 December 2014). See leaflet and blog for more details, reviews etc on this book
  • Linked In discussion group established on MPA governance questions arising from the case studies, and on related papers, issues, potential case studies, etc
  • Special Issue of the journal Marine Policy based on MPAG research findings now published - Governing marine protected areas: towards social-ecological resilience through institutional diversity - includes introductory paper (journal version and open copy), synthesis paper (journal version and open copy) and 15 case study papers - See Outline and Full Contents List: English, Spanish and Portuguese version
  • MPAG findings presented at Wildaid Global MPA Enforcement Conference (26 November, 2012). Peter Jones gave a plenary opening presentation: Governing MPAs - resilience through diversity.
  • Nature news feature 'Ocean Conservation: uncertain sanctuary' discusses some of the findings of this report. The editorial of this issue of Nature discusses this news feature: 'Troubled Waters'
  • MPA News feature on MPA Governance report

Next MPAG phase: global meta-analysis

The pilot phase of the marine protected area governance (MPAG) project, funded by UNEP, provided for the development and testing of an analytical framework for deconstructing governance in any given MPA. Funds are now being sought to apply this MPA governance analytical framework to a larger number of MPA case studies around the world, the target being 200 case studies. This qualitative meta-analysis will assess the effectiveness of MPA governance institutions in achieving biodiversity and resource conservation objectives, with the aim of analysing the different combinations of incentives that are effective in particular contexts, providing for the identification of 'good practice' in MPA governance, including the potential for the transferability of good practice to other MPAs. This will provide a vital resource for MPA managers as well as providing for comparisons of MPA effectiveness with the governance approach employed. Please contact Dr Peter JS Jones if you have any sources of or suggestions for such funding.

Page last modified on 27 aug 14 09:08