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It is also the policy of IUCN to recommend that, as an integral component of marine conservation and management, each national government should seek cooperative action between the public and all levels of government for development of a national system of marine protected areas.

This policy, which is based on decades of experience in all parts of the world, clearly indicates that IUCN members agree that socioeconomic issues have to be considered throughout the processes involved in identifying, selecting, and establishing MPAs.

Quoted below are some conclusions from the examination of a series of case studies of MPAs (Kelleher and Recchia, 1998). These case studies were from widely different geographic, social, and economic regions. Conclusions included the following:

  • Socioeconomic considerations usually determine the success or failure of MPAs. In addition to biophysical factors, these considerations should be addressed from the outset in identifying sites for selecting and managing MPAs.

  • Local people must be deeply involved from the earliest possible stage in any MPA that is to succeed. This involvement should extend to their receiving clearly identifiable benefits from the MPA.

  • It is better to have an MPA that is not ideal in an ecological sense, but meets the primary objective, than to strive vainly to create the “perfect MPA.”

  • Design and management of MPAs must be both top-down and bottom-up.

Has the “sequential” approach been successful anywhere in establishing MPAs? Perhaps the best example of the sequential approach is that developed by the Canadian government, although many other countries or states have tried it in less systematic ways. As early as 1990, Canada had identified the 29 major biogeographic provinces of its marine environment and had developed an elegant systems approach to identifying priority areas for the establishment of representative MPAs. The outline of the method used is set out in IUCN's Guide-lines for Establishing Marine Protected Areas (Kelleher and Kenchington, 1992). It exemplifies the sequential approach in that it was based on scientific considerations, without explicitly considering socioeconomic issues.

However, Canada's program to establish MPAs at the federal level has not been very successful. Since 1990, only one MPA has been established formally (the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park) and one tentatively (the Gully). This result can be compared with the experience of other countries, such as Indonesia, where socioeconomic issues are considered in parallel with ecological factors in an integrated way and where many MPAs have been established since 1990. However, the establishment of MPAs is only one measure of the effectiveness of the sequential versus the integrated approach. The next level of assessment is to determine whether MPAs have been effective in meeting their design goals.

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