Report offers lessons learned from network of locally-managed marine areas

An initiative to help locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs) in the Western Pacific develop best practices for planning and management has released a report with preliminary lessons learned from the past five years. Launched in 2000, the LMMA Network consists of 244 sites in Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. The bulk of the report focuses on a subset of these sites – those with the most extensive ecological and socioeconomic data available – and analyzes the role of various factors in the sites’ success, including those related to governance, local demographics, economics, and the management team itself.

The analysis found that the factor most important for LMMA success was “leadership”. That is, strong support from local leaders for an LMMA leads to higher LMMA success. In contrast, the level of financial investment in a project (beyond a certain basic requirement) was inversely related to LMMA success. According to the report authors, this could be because greater spending per site allows for bringing in more experts, which can take decision-making out of the hands of the community or raise expectations of project outcomes. “While it must be emphasized that these are preliminary findings based on a very small sample size, we have nonetheless found them to be enlightening and look forward to continued data-gathering and analysis,” says the report.

The 2005 Annual Report: A Focus on Lessons Learned also provides country updates and a review of project financials, and is available in PDF format on the LMMA Network website, The project’s 2004 annual report, which provided an in-depth introduction and history of the network (MPA News 6:11), is also available there.

Report describes links between faiths and protected areas, and implications for management

Religious faiths have been involved in some of the longest-existing forms of habitat protection, both through preservation of sacred sites and through religious-based belief systems that impact how followers view nature. A new report from WWF and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) explores how faiths interact with protected areas, including the opportunities and challenges that sacred areas pose for resource managers. The report synopsizes the attitudes of several faiths toward habitat conservation, and describes 100 sacred places within protected areas worldwide, including a small number of marine and coastal sites. Fourteen in-depth case studies are included.

“Today the spiritual values of a site are frequently not considered when planning conservation, and conservationists [including protected area managers and NGO staff] often lack the skills or knowledge to deal effectively with sacred sites and the people for whom they are sacred,” write co-authors Nigel Dudley, Liza Higgins-Zogib, and Stephanie Mansourian. “Success in co-managing for faith and nature is almost always a matter of developing effective and trusting partnerships between the different stakeholders involved.”

The report Beyond Belief: Linking Faiths and Protected Areas for Biodiversity Conservation is available in PDF format at The authors intend to follow up the report with tools and specific guidelines on this subject for protected area managers. The subject of faiths and MPAs was also covered in the December 2005/January 2006 edition of MPA News (“Sacred MPAs: Where Protected Areas Hold Spiritual Value for Stakeholders, and How This Affects Management”, Vol. 7, No. 6).

Report: High-seas fish stocks to collapse unless managers adopt ecosystem approach

The 16 regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) responsible for managing living marine resources on the high seas must improve their adoption of precautionary and ecosystem approaches to management – or else risk the widespread, serial collapse of fish stocks, according to a new report. Co-published by WWF and TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network), the report describes effective and ineffective practices of various RFMOs and recommends how the organizations can improve. In its discussion of ecosystem approaches to management, the report states how some RFMOs have used fishery closures to protect seamounts from bottom-trawling, or have closed areas prone to high bycatch rates. “Although past performance of most RFMOs has been poor, innovative solutions to common problems have been developed by a few organizations, resulting in a more sustainable approach,” says Anna Willock, TRAFFIC’s senior fisheries advisor. The report Follow the Leader: Learning from Experience and Best Practice in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations is available in PDF format at