Developing MPA Effectiveness Indicators: Comparison Within and Across Stakeholder Groups and Communities

Shared expectations about marine protected areas (MPAs) might be expected to enhance their effectiveness. This study determined whether members of local communities had common or divergent views about the objectives and indicators of MPA effectiveness. In the central Philippines we used unconstrained and constrained methods to interview people in five stakeholder groups (elders, fishers, leaders, women, and youth) associated with each of 10 community-based no-take MPAs that had been protected between 0 and 21 years. Respondents identified multiple MPA objectives, the most frequently mentioned of which was restoring and sustaining fish populations.

The results suggest that MPA age accounts for the greatest level of variation across communities. When unconstrained, progress in enforcement was identified as a key indicator among respondents from younger MPAs while respondents from older MPAs identified increased fish abundance and catch. Although consensus can be reached more easily under constrained conditions, the results derived from unconstrained methods are more revealing of the needs and aspirations of communities. These are likely to contribute more to the search for appropriate management interventions, particularly given that MPAs evolve over time. Hence, the development of MPA effectiveness indicators must be an iterative community-informed process to ensure timely and relevant management interventions.

Pajaro, M.G., Mulrennan, M.E., Alder J. & A.C.J. Vincent (2010). Developing MPA effectiveness indicators: comparison within and across stakeholder groups and communities. Coastal Management 38(2):122-143.