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Title: Scaling and sustaining locally managed marine areas
Author: Rocliffe, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 3852
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2015
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In many parts of the tropics, coastal communities are increasingly assuming responsibility for nearshore resources under arrangements known as “locally managed marine areas” or LMMAs. Broadly similar to marine protected areas, LMMAs are managed for sustainable, long-term use rather than biodiversity conservation itself, and typically employ a range of management techniques, including periodic closures, gear restrictions, secure access rights, species-specific reserves and permanently closed, fully protected areas (no-take zones) to achieve this aim. Evidence suggests that, when effective, LMMAs can encourage responsible fishing, strengthen compliance and may help to safeguard food security and increase resource abundance. However, the recently established and informal nature of many initiatives means that several questions remain unanswered. In particular, little is known about the effectiveness of LMMAs in achieving long-term ecological goals, with initiatives often lacking the necessary financial resources to sustain both effective management and the collection and evaluation of robust socio-ecological evidence on which such management often depends. A second unresolved question concerns the status and scale of LMMAs outside the Western and Central Pacific, the region where research interest has concentrated to date. This PhD combines social and ecological research to investigate how to address these key research gaps and improve the effectiveness of locally managed marine areas. The work falls into four interdisciplinary data chapters, with a core focus of examining the role of research design in improving assessments of LMMAs and other spatially explicit tools like marine protected areas, as well as the potential role of tourism as a source of funding and support for LMMAs. The opening two data chapters take an interdisciplinary approach to the assessment of a long-established network of LMMAs in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, beginning with an examination of tourist satisfaction with the network, using respondent completion questionnaires. The results found widespread disappointment, with around half of respondents not satisfied with coral cover or diversity and around 40% dissatisfied with fish abundance, size or diversity. The second data chapter swaps socio-economics for ecology, evaluating the effectiveness of Rarotonga’s LMMAs using three contrasting research approaches. A network-level analysis, which assessed overall responses to protection, suggested no LMMA effects, with abundance and biomass of species targeted by fishers not significantly higher within LMMAs compared to control sites. In contrast, a site-level analysis, which explored the differences between each of the individual LMMAs and their paired controls, revealed significant differences in targeted abundance (2.5-3 times higher), biomass (4.3-5.4 times higher) and community structure between LMMAs and controls at the two sites where hotels were acting as co-management partners. A third analysis, which used an asymmetric approach to examine the performance of each LMMA against multiple control sites, accorded with the second, finding that both targeted biomass and abundance were significantly higher at the hotel-supported sites than at multiple controls. The third data chapter continues to examine the role of research design in improving assessments of area-based management initiatives. A novel double-blind randomised controlled trial using underwater video fish surveys demonstrated that observers who were told that the transects they were assessing came from a no-take marine reserve significantly and erroneously overestimated the effectiveness of the reserve vs. those who were not told, inflating their fish counts by approximately 28% (95% CI 18.5% to 40.5%, p > 0.0001). The final chapter explores new horizons for LMMAs, presenting the first assessment of the status and extent of LMMAs in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and supporting legal frameworks. Using the most comprehensive dataset of the region’s LMMAs and marine protected areas yet developed, this analysis revealed that more than 11,000km2 of marine resource in the WIO was managed in LMMAs. The analysis also found that many initiatives were hampered by underdeveloped legal and enforcement mechanisms and argued for a regional network of LMMA practitioners to share best practice on financing and evaluation and to encourage the development of further LMMAs. Taken together, the different chapters expand our knowledge of LMMAs in the Western and Central Pacific and WIO and provide important baselines against which to evaluate future management strategies in the Cook Islands and WIO. They highlight the importance of capturing visitor perceptions of marine resource management and protection efforts in tourism-dependent island states, and provide some evidence for the role coastal hotels can play in supporting and sustaining LMMAs in tropical developing countries. Finally, they demonstrate that both a common analytical flaw and a previously unresearched bias may confound results in evaluations of the ecological effectiveness of protected areas, underscoring the need to incorporate blind assessment and to more carefully consider potentially confounding variables in future research designs.
Supervisor: Raffaelli, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available