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‘Balancing Marine Conservation And Development - Challenges And Solutions For Large Scale Marine Protected Areas In The Pacific Islands Region’


Large scale marine protected areas must avoid inequitable costs on developing States. In some contexts, this can be achieved through careful design and complementarity with fisheries management regimes to avoid significant reductions in fisheries revenue or impacts on local community livelihoods and food security, and financial investments to mitigate management costs. In other circumstances, rights based management frameworks can be utilised to share costs through the transferral of fishing effort with minimal impact on revenue. In some cases, financing schemes such as payments for ecosystem services may be required to avoid disproportionate burdens falling upon developing States. This presentation discusses examples in the Pacific islands region and proposes solutions that avoid inequitable costs, build community and political support, and ensure the long term sustainability of large scale marine protected areas.

Problem, challenge or context: 

Effective implementation of marine conservation depends upon balancing development objectives with conservation imperatives. Experience from previous attempts to establish large scale marine protected areas have demonstrated that it is highly difficult to close areas to commercial fishing if it will significantly reduce government revenue for developing countries. Even in circumstances where there is a long term benefit that outweighs the short term costs, this is a politically difficult task as vested interests will overstate the more obvious short term costs and understate the more nebulous long term benefits.

Specific elements of components: 

Protected area design and complementarity with fisheries management frameworks, rights based management and transferrable quotas, payments for ecosystem services.

Key lessons learned: 

Implementation and long term sustainability of large scale marine protected areas depends upon direct national benefits. Abstract global contributions to conservation are not enough to balance conservation costs for developing States. Innovative solutions are required to enable the implementation of large scale marine protected areas and avoid inequitable and politically unacceptable impacts on developing States.

Impacts and outcomes: 

N/A – protected areas under discussion are yet to be fully implemented

Contact details: 
Dr Quentin Hanich
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