Co-management Approaches

Coral reef restoration project in Curieuse Marine National Park on Curieuse Island, Seychelles. Photo © Jason Houston

Co-management is an approach to managing marine resources that involves the sharing of responsibility and authority between governments and local communities and may also include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions.

Locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) and marine conservation agreements (MCAs) are two approaches to marine management that involve aspects of co-management such as the involvement of communities and/or local governments in decision-making and implementation.

400 villages in Fiji have established LMMAs Tom Vierus Ocean Image Bank

About 400 villages in Fiji have established locally managed marine areas with support from the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas Network. Photo © Tom Vierus/Ocean Image Bank


A locally managed marine area (LMMA) is an area of nearshore waters and its associated coastal and marine resources that is managed at the local level by communities, land-owning groups, partner organizations, and/or collaborative governments who reside or are based in the immediate area.

A locally managed area can vary widely in purpose and design, but two aspects remain consistent among them:

  1. A well-defined or designated area
  2. Involvement of communities and/or local governments in decision-making and implementation

A LMMA differs from a conventional MPA in that locally managed areas are characterized by local ownership, use and/or control, and in some areas follow the traditional tenure and management practices of the region. By contrast, the term MPA normally refers to an area formally designated via a top-down governmental approach, with management implemented or overseen by a centralized agency.

Some examples of existing LMMAs include the Locally-Managed Marine Area Network and the Pacific Islands Managed & Protected Area Community (PIMPAC).

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