Marine Protected Areas: Improving management

WWF's goal is that all Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) benefit from effective management and will be sustainable in the long term.
The vast majority of the world's current MPAs suffer from little or no management.

To redress this, we are working on:

What's the problem?

If MPAs are not well-managed, they cannot provide benefits such as biodiversity conservation, improved fisheries, and an improved quality of life for coastal communities. Find out more...

What is effective MPA management?

MPAs are established for a wide range of purposes.
These include protecting marine species and habitats, conserving marine biodiversity, restoring fisheries populations, managing tourism activities, and minimizing conflicts among diverse resource users. 

Management plans help define specific goals
To achieve these complex aims, a well-defined management plan is needed for each MPA that clearly describes specific and measurable goals and outcomes, and how these will be achieved. Effective management means that these goals and outcomes are being met.

Management effectiveness must also be monitored
However, the relationship between actions and outcomes is often not so obvious. Faced with the daily demands of their jobs, many MPA managers are not able to regularly step back and reflect on the cumulative results of their efforts. In the absence of such reflection, scarce resources may be wasted, and even worse, management objectives may not be achieved.

In addition, too often in the past, protected area management has been assessed on the basis of how much money has been spent, how many permits issued, how many enforcement actions have been taken, or how many laws and regulations have been adopted. But these are all ‘inputs’ into management rather than outcomes.

Regular evaluation of management effectiveness is therefore vital. Such evaluation offers a structured way to learn from both management successes and failures, and helps others understand how and why practices are being adapted and improved over time.

WWF and others have developed a tool for measuring management effectiveness. It helps park managers assess whether their actions have produced the desired results. It also emphasizes the importance of broad community and stakeholder involvement in the overall management of MPAs. Find out more...
Coral biologist and WWF Marine Officer, Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. / ©: WWF / Cat HOLLOWAY
Coral biologist and WWF Marine Officer, Phoenix Islands, Kiribati.

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