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Examination of MPA experiences worldwide led to the following conclusion (Kelleher and Kenchington, 1992):

There is no simple or “turn-key” solution. What works for one nation or group of nations can rarely be transposed unmodified to another ecological or socio-economic environment. Nevertheless, there are strategic principles which are virtually universally applicable. One such principle is that a marine protected area is likely to be successful only if the local people are directly involved in its selection, establishment and management.

One almost universal aspect of human nature is people's suspicion of any action or program that may significantly affect their well-being if they have not been meaningfully involved in its design. If people as a group feel that they have not been part of the decision-making process, with genuine influence, it is usually difficult to obtain high levels of compliance from that group (Hanna, 1998). Instead, the group is likely to concentrate on the possible negative effects of the decision or action on its welfare. The best way to avoid losing support from one of these groups is to involve it in all aspects of a project. A person's strength of commitment to a course of action is likely to be proportional to the amount of “ownership” the person feels for that course. This sense of ownership is jeopardized by any exclusion from the decisionmaking process but is fostered when people can see that the plan considers their welfare in its design. Likewise, it is almost impossible in most modern societies to achieve long-term success in an action that affects the welfare of a local community if the community is opposed to the action. This has been demonstrated specifically in relation to MPAs (Salm and Clark, 1984, 2000; Kelleher and Recchia, 1998).

Experience from all parts of the world demonstrates that the apparent savings in time, human resources, and cost that might be achieved by excluding stakeholders—and thus avoiding conflict in early phases of a project—are illusory. When stakeholders are excluded initially, the later phases of a project often include conflicts arising from the reactions summarized above, which result in costs many times greater than the savings made through the initial exclusion of stakeholders.

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