Science as a Central Tool in Planning Marine Reserves: Case Study of the Channel Islands

A marine protected area based wholly upon ecological science may represent the ideal MPA for conservation biologists.  Seldom, however, are MPAs designated on a purely ecological basis.  More often, MPA designations represent the desire of decisionmakers to protect an area for aesthetic or political reasons.  Or they incorporate a range of social and economic considerations — like minimizing economic impacts on fishers — that can compromise an MPA's "ideal" ecological design, often for the purpose of gaining support from stakeholders.

Frequently this results in disagreement about the role of science in stakeholder processes.

In the state of California (USA), a process is ongoing to designate a series of marine reserves around the Channel Islands archipelago.  The process, designed by a multistakeholder group, has been advised by two panels: a science advisory panel, made up of natural scientists, and a socioeconomic advisory panel, consisting of economists and other social scientists.  Set to conclude this month (May), the process has been intended to heed ecological and socioeconomic concerns in generating a consensus plan.

Interview: Channel Islands Scientists Discuss their Work

MPA News spoke with two members of the Channel Islands science advisory panel about the roles of science and scientists in the reserve-planning process there. Satie Airame, a postdoctoral researcher with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, has served as the...

MPA Practitioners Face Challenges in Accessing Science

The heightened interest in MPAs among resource managers has spurred a wave of related scientific research and a growing library of academic articles and reports. But how much of this scientific discovery is reaching MPA practitioners — the people who need this...

The State of MPA Science: What Have We Learned Lately?

In October 1999, MPA News surveyed a dozen MPA experts from around the world on what scientific question intrigued them most (MPA News 1:2). Reflecting the relative newness of MPA science, respondents viewed some of the most basic questions — such as whether...