“MPA Tip” is a recurring feature in MPA News that presents advice on planning and management gathered from various publications on protected areas. The purpose is two-fold: to provide useful guidance to practitioners, and to serve as a reminder of valuable literature in the MPA field.

The following tip was adapted by MPA News from Managing Marine Protected Areas: A Toolkit for the Western Indian Ocean (Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association [WIOMSA], 2004). Consisting of a series of themed briefs, the toolkit offers guidance on a diverse array of topics, from planning and financing to setting up a radio communications system and disposing of solid waste. It is available online at http://www.wiomsa.org/mpatoolkit/Home.htm.

Tip: If an MPA is suffering negative impacts because of too many visitors, actions to reduce such impacts can include:

  • Instituting seasonal or temporal limits on use.
  • Restricting such features as car parking, accommodation facilities, or public transport.
  • Regulating group size, particularly for specialized activities, or requiring pre-registration (visits only by prior arrangement).
  • Providing guided tours, which allow for more control and ensure visitation occurs at appropriate times of day (note that this can also heighten enjoyment for visitors by increasing wildlife-viewing opportunities).
  • Ensuring that visitors stay on specified routes and do not trample vegetation or disturb animals, and that noise and the use of light at night are minimized (during visits to turtle nesting beaches, for example).
  • Using zonation to prohibit or reduce visits to sensitive, ecologically important areas.
  • Increasing entrance fees at peak periods.
  • “Hardening” some sites by constructing facilities and trails to reduce overall impact while allowing more visitors and increasing wildlife-viewing opportunities (boardwalks and pontoons, for example).
  • Providing rubbish bins and information boards to encourage visitors not to leave litter.