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Scaling Up to Networks of Marine Protected Areas in the Philippines: Biophysical, Legal, Institutional, and Social Considerations

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Abstract:

The growing number of marine protected areas (MPAs) globally represents an increasing interest in marine conservation and fisheries management and the potential of planned and managed MPA networks as a way of strengthening local management. This study documents the development of MPA networks in the Philippines and identifies critical success factors and issues. Methods were field observation by participation in MPA and fisheries management projects and focused interviews that gathered opinions and observations of primary MPA network stakeholders in the central Visayas region. Findings show that an MPA network is defined through social and ecological criteria. From a social perspective, a network is comprised of people and organizations that manage component MPAs, benefit from the network, and promote the network's viability through shared administrative responsibility and information. To qualify as part of an ecological network, individual MPAs must interact ecologically (e.g., source or sink of larvae and propagating organisms, protection for habitat, and threatened or endangered species) to enhance fisheries and biodiversity conservation. The study found that while social and ecological criteria are shaping MPA networks through science-based planning, integrated management, and coordination, there exist numerous institutional issues related to scaling up to networks from single MPAs. Issues pertain to: limiting access to resources, boundary delineation, monitoring compliance, finding common goals and identity, and conflict resolution. Factors correlated with management success included common institutional processes and legal support, improved understanding of benefits from a network and improved habitat conditions and fishery yields associated with MPAs.

Keywords: MPA; MPA network; institutions; marine conservation; protected areas

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08920750902851146

Affiliations: 1: Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 2: Global Marine Team, The Nature Conservancy, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 3: School of Marine Affairs and Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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