Marine protected areas as biological successes and social failures in Southeast Asia

Book Chapter appearing in Aquatic Protected Areas as Fisheries Management Tools: Design, Use, and Evaluation of These Fully Protected Areas.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are of growing interest globally. They are principally studied from a biological perspective, with some cases documenting improved environmental conditions and increased fish yields. The MPAs that meet narrowly defined biological goals are generally presented as “successes.” However, these same MPAs may, in fact, be social “failures” when social evaluation criteria are applied. A review of four MPAs in the Philippines and Indonesia demonstrates this scenario. The cases are reviewed using standard measures of biological and social success. Their historic and present management structures are reviewed. It is suggested that a strong linkage exists between social and biological success, with social considerations determining long-term biological success. This finding implies that standards for measuring both biological and social success should be applied equally and that MPAs should be designed to meet multiple social and biological goals. The evaluation and portrayal of MPAs has implications for the management of a particular MPA and the broader discourse surrounding marine environmental management.