Quantitative decision support tools facilitate social-ecological alignment in community-based marine protected area design
Krueck, NC and Abdurrahim, AY and Adhuri, DS and Mumby, PJ and Ross, H, Quantitative decision support tools facilitate social-ecological alignment in community-based marine protected area design, Ecology and Society, 24, (4) Article 6. ISSN 1708-3087 (2019) [Refereed Article]
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly used to support both biodiversity conservation and fisheries management. However, MPA performance is likely to be compromised if people who depend on fishing are excluded from MPA design decision making. Participatory MPA design helps to address this problem by engaging local stakeholders in all critical decisions, including the total coverage, placement, and local size of no-take marine reserves. Here, we report the findings from a participatory MPA design project on Selayar Island, Indonesia, in which a community initiated collaborations with scientists to access modern quantitative tools for community-led MPA scenario testing. The outcomes highlight a local disagreement between ecologically and socially desirable MPA designs. Focused on social considerations, the initial community-supported MPA design consisted of four small reserves (0.5–1 km wide) in predominately southern community waters, where they were intended to restrict external fishers. Ecologically optimal MPA designs, in contrast, consisted of one or two large reserves (4–6 km wide) in northern community waters, where they were expected to restrict primarily local fishers but better support the rebuilding of fish populations and fisheries. However, ecologically optimal MPA designs were socially infeasible. Using quantitative MPA performance assessments, the community negotiated an alternative MPA design consisting of two 1.5–2 km wide reserves at socially and ecologically favorable locations. Compared to the initial proposal, this revised MPA design was estimated (1) to protect three to four times more individuals of key fishery species within reserve boundaries and (2) to double local fishery catches. We conclude that even simple MPA design tools, which quantify and visualize local conservation and fishery outcomes under alternative MPA scenarios, add value to participatory decision making and likely MPA performance.