This study describes the increasing use of community based management of marine resources in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and assesses locally managed marine areas (LMMAs), producing the first regional inventory. LMMAs are managed for sustainable use and utilize a combination of management tools; in this paper their geography, number, size, and governance structure were described and they were compared to areas managed by government initiatives. A synthesis of the 74 coral-related marine protected areas (MPAs) in eleven countries/territories within the WIO found only 29.6% to be ecologically effective.  Approximately 7% of the regions’ continental shelf receives protection, with 76% of reefs at risk from local threats, the most predominant of which was overfishing. This study also evaluated the potential for MPAs to contribute to the Convention on Biodiversity Target protecting 10% of coastal and marine ecosystems by 2020. Overall, LMMAs in 4 of the 11 countries/territories surveyed have the legal structures to support community-based management, which is lacking in the remaining 7 countries/territories. For LMMAs to be more effective, authors suggest the establishment of a network for LMMA practitioners in the region.

Author: Rocliffe, S., S. Peabody, M. Samoilys, and J.P. Hawkins
Year: 2014
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PLoS ONE 9(7): e103000. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103000

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