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Striking a Balance between Biodiversity Conservation and Socioeconomic Viability in the Design of Marine Protected Areas

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The establishment of marine protected areas is often viewed as a conflict between conservation and fishing. We considered consumptive and nonconsumptive interests of multiple stakeholders (i.e., fishers, scuba divers, conservationists, managers, scientists) in the systematic design of a network of marine protected areas along California's central coast in the context of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. With advice from managers, administrators, and scientists, a representative group of stakeholders defined biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic goals that accommodated social needs and conserved marine ecosystems, consistent with legal requirements. To satisfy biodiversity goals, we targeted 11 marine habitats across 5 depth zones, areas of high species diversity, and areas containing species of special status. We minimized adverse socioeconomic impacts by minimizing negative effects on fishers. We included fine-scale fishing data from the recreational and commercial fishing sectors across 24 fisheries. Protected areas designed with consideration of commercial and recreational fisheries reduced potential impact to the fisheries approximately 21% more than protected areas designed without consideration of fishing effort and resulted in a small increase in the total area protected (approximately 3.4%). We incorporated confidential fishing data without revealing the identity of specific fisheries or individual fishing grounds. We sited a portion of the protected areas near land parks, marine laboratories, and scientific monitoring sites to address nonconsumptive socioeconomic goals. Our results show that a stakeholder-driven design process can use systematic conservation-planning methods to successfully produce options for network design that satisfy multiple conservation and socioeconomic objectives.Marine protected areas that incorporate multiple stakeholder interests without compromising biodiversity conservation goals are more likely to protect marine ecosystems.
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Keywords: Marxan; biodiversidad marina; conservation costs; conservation planning; costos de conservación; esfuerzo de pesca; fishing effort; fishing exclusion zones; marine biodiversity; marine reserves; planificación de la conservación; protected areas; reservas marinas; zonas de exclusión de pesca; áreas protegidas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131, U.S.A. 2: Ecotrust, 721 NW Ninth Avenue, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97209, U.S.A. 3: Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6150, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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