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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Marine protected areas : a global exploration of their quantity and quality Boonzaier, Lisa


Expansion in the number and extent of marine protected areas (MPAs) has been dramatic during the past century, but coverage remains limited and there are concerns that many MPAs are failing to meet their objectives. After updating the global database of MPAs maintained by the Sea Around Us, new estimates of global marine protected area were calculated and revealed a degree of progress towards protecting at least 10% of the global ocean by 2020. It is estimated that more than 6,000 MPAs covering 3.27% of the world’s oceans (∼11.9 million km²) have been designated to date. The protection these MPAs offer is generally weak with about one-fifth (∼2.2 million km²) of their combined area designated as no-take (i.e., where fishing and other extractive activities are prohibited). Additional large tracts of ocean will need to be protected to reach the 10% target, and hypothetical scenarios for such expansion were investigated. To improve understanding of the likely conservation effectiveness of MPAs, trends in their management effectiveness were explored. Results from a self-administered survey questionnaire, distributed to managers and other experts associated with a random sample of MPAs from around the world, revealed a wide range of MPA management effectiveness across different socioeconomic contexts. The results were intended to inform a model of MPA management effectiveness based on socioeconomic, governance and other contextual variables, but no clear relationships between contextual variables and MPA management effectiveness were identified. Overall, the survey findings confirmed results of other studies: while some MPAs are well supported with funding, staff and equipment, others lack even basic management elements. Additional research is essential to understanding the issues preventing MPAs from meeting their objectives, including effectively contributing to biodiversity conservation.

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