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Strategies for setting up or managing MPAs should be based on the best available knowledge. Day 2 offers an overview of, and opportunities to exchange on, the main scientific developments of the last few years. It also focuses on how the scientific community interacts on knowledge issues with managers, economic players and the larger public. This leads to a discussion of experiences in leveraging science for enhanced management, decision-making or public awareness.
Conservation biology remains a central pillar of nature conservation and decision-making. In particular, the place and role of MPAs in species conservation strategies needs to be questioned, for the sake of efficiency.
Knowing exactly what to expect in terms of conservation results is crucial both before MPA creation, to select appropriate sites, and after, to ensure effective management. To assess these results, scientists will discuss and provide feedback on approaches and methods implemented at various scales.
Within a given area or biome, what information and data do MPA managers need to gain an accurate understanding of the biodiversity and of its interactions? In answering this question, scientists and managers will consider especially benthic habitats, migratory species and the issue of biological connectivity.
Strategies for setting up or managing MPAs are today mostly restricted to coastal environments.
Protecting 10% of the oceans by 2020, as prescribed by Aichi Target 11, leads us to take a step back and envision the MPA-creation process at ocean scale. To be able to do so, we must improve science and knowledge on specific habitats, such as the deep sea or the Arctic.
Keeping the global picture in mind is important when creating not only large MPAs but also smallerones, even those planned at local or regional scale.
Specific biomes deserve specific approaches and methods for their conservation. This area tackles the challenge of creating and managing MPAs in deep seas, in pelagic waters and in Polar Regions.
Considerable field work is required to understand, study, survey, and monitor species, habitats and ecosystems. Numerous technologies – often developed for other purposes – can help streamline these tasks, making MPA management both effective and efficient.
Adequate technical tools and methods are fundamental to conduct efficient scientific studies and surveys, and hence understand conservation features and processes.
Drawing up inventories of species and mapping habitats are very often the prerequisites to any conservation or management measure. They mobilize a wide range of techniques, from basic divers’ observations to remote sensors and remote-operated vehicles. Protocols must be both scientifically sound and operational for managers. Inventories also present a challenge in terms of data management and their sharing. Due to their cost, they remain a domain where there is room for progress and innovation. Taxonomy deserves special mention when it comes to inventories, and the elaboration of red lists remains a critical tool for conservation.
MPA managers are deeply concerned about impacts, whether of climate change, of terrestrial and marine activities, or of conservation measures. But it often proves difficult to distinguish between the effects of each separate type of pressure, to quantify their impact from an ecological point of view, or to evaluate their cumulative effects. Because impact studies and monitoring strategies and techniques are crucial to managers, they must undergo strict scrutiny, to make sure they are based on reliable data and well-defined indicators.
MPAs must take into account the needs and cultural specificities of their human populations and of their users, professional or not. This is a matter of both principle and effectiveness. In principle, the ecosystem approach acknowledges humans, in their cultural variety, as an integral component of ecosystems. In practice, MPA management goals must be appropriated by local communities. One way of increasing their involvement lies in recognizing the very real value of their empirical knowledge. Participative science in particular is emerging as an interesting method for gathering, increasing public participation and raising awareness.
Traditional knowledge and values, sacred and religious sites, and ancestral uses have much to contribute to the management and planning process of MPAs.
The ecosystem approach has gained wide recognition for the conservation and management of dynamic coastal and marine environment. Its concept of ecosystem services provides crucial guidance for decision-making. Marine ecosystems and MPAs themselves can be valued through cost-benefit studies, among other methods which will be defined and assessed. Their assigned value must then be communicated to stakeholders, and compensation mechanisms defined.
The social sciences play a growing role in the study, shaping and organization of MPAs. Geography helps to take a step back and consider issues at scales consistent with MPA design and management.
Seascapes are an emerging subject and offer interesting perspectives. Sociology and anthropology interact with the very definition of MPAs, making them more efficient and people-oriented. This area therefore highlights local communities as essential players in the creation and management of MPAs, through consultations and shared government. Their involvement reflects and builds on native populations’ long history of local and regional resource usage, as well as on their customary laws and control systems.