Fishing boats in Abrolhos, Brazil.
Balance of Conservation and Economic Development
Managers who implement MMAs face many challenging decisions involving the interplay of economics and conservation. The role of incentives in conservation efforts is receiving increased recognition. Examples include using economic incentives as part of MMA strategy, balancing the business revenues and ecological impacts of tourism, and planning MMA resources to accomplish the greatest return on investment in terms of progress toward management goals.
Because MMAs are a relatively new management tool, decision-makers have had scant real-world information on which to base their economic choices. Using data from the growing number of MMAs around the world, the MMAS Program is studying the interface of economics and conservation to enhance management decision-making.
MMAS Research Program
- Analysis of economic incentives in MMAs around the world. We are analyzing alternative livelihood, fisheries buy-out, and quid pro quo programs to determine reasons for success or failure. We will produce a guidebook for MMA managers on the strengths and weaknesses of economic incentive strategies, including case studies. Principal investigator: Eduard Niesten. View the Work Plan >>
- Ecotourism effects on spawning fish. We are examining the potential negative impacts created by the activities of recreational divers on the behavior of multiple species of spawning fish. The study will offer guidance for the sustainable management of these fishes and best practices for this increasingly popular tourism activity. Location: Gladden Spit, Belize. Principal investigator: Will Heyman.
View the Work Plan >>
- MMA cost effectiveness. To determine the most effective budgeting strategies, we are assessing allocation of financial resources for MMA implementation and comparing the returns on investment. The study will provide insights for MMA budgeting for outreach, research, enforcement, and other activities. Principal investigator: Rashid Sumaila. View the Work Plan >>
Science to Action
- The initial version of the Guidebook to Incentive-based Conservation Approaches and Marine Management Areas was presented at the International Marine Conservation Congress in May 2009 and at the Society for Conservation Biology Meeting in July 2009. Highlighted in the guidebook are lessons learned from a global set of case studies of buy-outs, conservation incentive agreements, and alternative livelihoods projects.