Mind the Gap: Addressing the Shortcomings of Marine Protected Areas through Large Scale Marine Spatial Planning
Article appearing in Marine POlicy. Volume 35. Issue 2.
- Patrick Christie with Tundi Agardy and Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara
- Date: March, 2011
A blind faith in the ability of MPAs to counteract loss of biodiversity is fraught with risk, especially when MPAs are poorly planned and when the consequences of establishing MPAs are not adequately thought out. MPA shortcomings are categorized as one of five main types: (1) MPAs that by virtue of their small size or poor design are ecologically insufficient; (2) inappropriately planned or managed MPAs; (3) MPAs that fail due to the degradation of the unprotected surrounding ecosystems; (4) MPAs that do more harm than good due to displacement and unintended consequences of management; and (5) MPAs that create a dangerous illusion of protection when in fact no protection is occurring. A strategic alternative, which fully utilizes the strengths of the MPA tool while avoiding the pitfalls, can overcome these shortcomings: integrating marine protected area planning in broader marine spatial planning and ocean zoning efforts.