Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lots of small MPAs better than one big one?

From Rueters: A new UN study suggests that a network of small marine protected areas may be more effective than few big MPAs.

First, what is the basic economic problem here? That is, why do we need MPAs in the first place?

What type of solution (command-and-control or incentives) would we classify marine protected areas as?

What problems arise with MPAs?

What are the goals of an MPA? Are most MPAs reaching those goals?

Read about MPA effectiveness here and here.

Here is an excellent article from Resources for the Future on the economic and social implications of MPAs.

Here is an informative site from NOAA regarding economics and MPAs.


Amanda K. said...

According to Reuters, nearly 40% of the world's population lives within 50 km of the coast. This means that an enormous number of people around the world rely on the ocean as a source of income and source of food. MPAs need to be designated as a way to help reduce the impact fishermen have on the fish populations.
Reuters suggests that setting up small no-fishing zones is better than closing off large areas. He says it is best to protect all the most vulnerable reefs while allowing fishermen to fish in between the protected areas. This will prevent fishermen from ignoring bans on fishing as they often do when larger areas are protected.
The article entitled A Global Analysis of the Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas in Preventing Coral Loss comments that due to the ecological, social, and economic value of coral reefs it has become a priority to protect such reefs. The article goes on to say that as a result of the success these MPAs have been having on restoring fish populations, “has led to optimism that they could also benefit corals by indirectly reducing threats like overfishing, which cause coral degradation and mortality.” Another important economic benefit of MPAs, according to the NOAA Coastal Services Center, is that they may increase ecotourism.
In reading through all the articles posted on this blog, I think it is safe to say that MPAs are overall beneficial. In particular, it is most beneficial to create numerous small MPAs and allow fishing in between the protected areas. The MPAs not only benefit the ecosystem but serve economic value as well. I think another key element that will make the several small MPAs most successful is strict reinforcement. Making those who disregard the protected areas pay fees and have those fees go towards maintaining the existing MPAs or creating new protected areas may prove beneficial.

Ryan McKnight said...

Based on the Rueters article, it seems that the main economic problem is that marine species are largely non-excludable/rival resources (a "tragedy of the commons"/common property dilemma). Due to their tendency to migrate, marine species cannot be kept in individual MPAs - even large ones. By establishing numerous, smaller MPAs, however, (e.g. in the places where the marine animals are most prone to feed/spawn) perhaps the long-term survivability of certain marine species and the resilience of particular marine ecosystems can be ensured.