Evaluating the impacts of integrating fisheries and conservation management
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Historically, the governance streams of fisheries and conservation management have run separately to one another, with little attempt at integration despite their similar goals. Efforts to integrate the two have increased as a result of their similarities and the potential benefits that may arise, but a requirement for additional research was identified to determine the effectiveness of this approach. This thesis therefore took an interdisciplinary approach, seeking to combine knowledge and methods from ecological, social and economic disciplines to provide a holistic evaluation of the potential for success. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were chosen as a management tool to evaluate for this purpose. Ecological research used underwater video methods to show that potting may be compatible with the conservation objectives of a multi-use MPA, but that this will depend on the level of impact and what is deemed ‘acceptable’ by regulators. An evaluation of social acceptance of MPAs using Q methodology stressed the importance of stakeholder engagement and transparency in decision making. Stakeholder acceptance can be facilitated by provision of clear evidence of the need for management, and of the benefits it may bring. Economic research evaluated the potential economic benefits of multi-use MPAs through quantification of change in quantity and value of landings for potting fisheries finding landings increased following MPA implementation. Finally, the thesis considered the effectiveness of ecosystem based fisheries management using a questionnaire designed to gather the opinions of stakeholders. This highlighted the potential role of co-management and the value of the ecosystem approach and emphasised the need for responsive, adaptive management which considers all stakeholders and all three disciplines. Overall the thesis highlighted the strength of taking an interdisciplinary approach, finding that whilst there is evidence for successful integration seen through designation of well managed multi-use MPAs, success may be limited by fundamental differences in the goals of the two streams. Further success may be facilitated by increased evidence for the benefits of integration for both governance streams, and provision of adequate resources to ensure management measures are reactive and adaptive.