Marine Protected Areas

Economics, Management and Effective Policy Mixes

image of Marine Protected Areas

Intense exploitation of our oceans and seas is degrading marine biodiversity and ecosystems at an alarming rate. This report presents good practice insights for effectively managing marine protected areas (MPAs), one of the policy instruments available for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and ecosystems. While global coverage of MPAs has been increasing over the past two decades, further efforts are required to meet the target under the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure they are effective.

Drawing on the literature and numerous examples from developed and developing countries, this book highlights how the environmental and cost effectiveness of MPAs can be enhanced. It covers issues including the benefits and costs of MPAs, the need for more strategic siting of MPAs, monitoring and compliance, sustainable finance for MPAs, and the need to embed these in a wider policy mix so as to address the multiple pressures on marine ecosystems.



Executive summary

The state of marine biodiversity and ecosystems is degrading at an alarming rate. It is estimated that 60% of the world’s major marine ecosystems have been degraded or are being used unsustainably. Many fisheries are over-exploited, with some stocks on the verge of collapse, and coral reefs are bleaching due to exposure to high temperatures and other pressures. Concurrently, pollution from land-based sources, including marine litter, is threatening species and marine habitats, and climate change compounds these effects and alters both the thermal and chemical characteristics of the ocean as well as its dynamics and nutrient availability. Since the 1980s, for example, an estimated 20% of global mangroves have been lost and 19% of coral reefs have disappeared. The welfare costs that this imposes on society are high and pressures from human activities are projected to grow.


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