FAO workshop on impacts of marine protected areas on fisheries yield, fishing communities and ecosystems. Rome, Italy. 6-18 June 2015.
Marine protected areas (MPAs), especially no-take closures, are usually referred to in the context of biodiversity conservation but have increasingly also been promoted as a fisheries management tool as a response to concerns regarding the poor state of many coastal and fishery resources. While specific area-based protections including full closures have historically been common fisheries management measures, the specific notion or use of the term MPAs has been mostly restricted to those implemented by environmental stakeholders - rather than fisheries managers and fishers. Moreover, the areas termed MPAs are often not integrated within an overall fisheries management framework. FAO has engaged in work on MPAs in relation to fisheries, including through the publication in 2011 of technical guidelines on MPAs and fisheries (www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2090e/i2090e00.htm) and the organisation of several regional workshops bringing together a broad range of MPA and fisheries stakeholders. However, while MPAs are increasingly being implemented, there is still an apparent lack of knowledge on how MPAs and fisheries interact. Specifically, what is the relationship between fishing pressure and areas closed to fishing (total area and average size of closures) and the impacts on food security, total abundance and diversity of ecosystem components, fishing communities and incomes? In order to address this lack of knowledge, a workshop was convened to bring together experts from different disciplines and parts of the world for an initial discussion that would lay the foundation for one or more future working groups that would examine how MPAs affect fisheries and fish and fishing communities, and provide guidance on how to optimise biodiversity, fisheries and livelihoods benefits. The workshop agreed on some tentative elements that could form the basis for further global and regional analyses including fisheries, environmental, social, economic, and governance dimensions. The workshop outcomes provide a basis for further collaboration through multidisciplinary including experts from around the world.