FAO Paper Examines MPA Governance in Brazil, Palau, India and Senegal

FAO2 March 2012: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a technical paper featuring case studies from Brazil, India, Palau and Senegal. The paper is intended to ground the FAO Technical Guidelines on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Fisheries in practical experience and to inform the use of MPAs globally.

The technical paper, titled "Marine protected areas: country case studies on policy, governance and institutional issues," examines governance opportunities and constraints in the use of spatial management tools at the national level. The case studies note different uses for MPAs, including sustainable management of fisheries or strict environmental protection. They note broad decision-making processes and governance regimes for the design and management of MPAs.

The case study on Brazil focuses on the dual role of MPAs, namely for fisheries and for conservation. It highlights the differences and objectives of the two categories in Brazil and provides a brief history of their implementation. It also includes a discussion on the lessons learned from a few examples of MPAs, and the main challenges, impacts and opportunities in Brazil for their effective implementation.

The case study on India looks at spatial management measures used for fisheries and wildlife conservation. It provides an overview of spatial management measures in fisheries management and introduces spatial measures in the conservation of coastal and marine resources, focusing in particular on certain elements of biodiversity. It further explores the legal/institutional framework for marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs), as well as the management processes that underpin them. The study also discusses available information on the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of current spatial management measures, both for fisheries management and for protection of wildlife.

The case study on Palau provides an overview of the history of traditional management of marine areas and the use of temporal closures of fishing areas. It underscores a generally positive perception of the role of MPAs, but notes concerns over land-use practices that contribute to marine degradation. It highlights that data demonstrate the general positive role of MPAs in the size and abundance of fish, but underlines an acknowledged difficulty in estimating the spillover effect outside of MPAs. The report notes that Palau has a vulnerable economy and that fisheries are likely to be stressed.

The case study on Senegal highlights that MPAs are still in their early development stages, but stresses that Senegal's marine resources are under severe pressures, both from commercial and artisanal fishing. It finds that fisheries management has been highly centralized, but that co-management has recently been introduced. The study presents some concern of local perceptions that MPAs are a miracle solution, and cautions about a poor scientific understanding of spillover effects from MPAs into broader waters. It also notes the need for a clearer role for MPAs in Senegalese law.

This set of case studies is the first in a series of case studies on MPA governance undertaken by the FAO. The case studies were funded by the Government of Japan. [FAO Publication: Marine Protected Areas: Country Case Studies on Policy, Governance and Institutional Issues] [FAO Press Release]