Back to Basics: An Empirical Study Demonstrating the Importance of Local-Level Dynamics for the Success of Tropical Marine Ecosystem-Based Management

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Abstract:

This analysis of marine ecosystem-based management (EBM) and marine protected area (MPA) networks in the Philippines demonstrates that local-level governance and institutional dynamics are central to management effectiveness. Using survey and interview data from 36 communities in the Central Visayas, key variables are identified that are correlated with and predictive of marine protected area success. Empirically based management guidelines are: (1) EBM and MPA design must be context appropriate, (2) capacity development to develop MPA leadership and the technical skills are a good investment, (3) strict and fair punishment for infractions of legitimate rules should be utilized and appear to be welcomed by local residents, and (4) conflict and controversy are a predictable part of MPA design and implementation and need to be planned for. Most importantly, while scaling up management interventions can make both biological and institutional sense, there is a point at which institutional capacity is exceeded. This study strongly suggests that in the Philippines, and likely many other tropical contexts, establishing large-scale EBM, MPA networks, or extensive centrally planned zonation schemes based primarily on national law, international targets, and command-and-control policy are likely to fail. The pressing imperative of ocean-wide environmental decline should not be used to justify infeasible and poorly designed management interventions that ignore local dynamics and institutional constraints.

Keywords: Philippines; ecosystem-based management; human dimensions; marine

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08920750902851740

Affiliations: 1: School of Marine Affairs and Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA 2: Department of Marine Affairs & Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA 3: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines 4: Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Cebu City, Philippines

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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