African Journal of Marine Science

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Criteria, objectives and methodology for evaluating marine protected areas in South Africa

PAR Hockey, GM Branch


In the face of ever-increasing requests for the proclamation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in South Africa, there is a need to develop an objective protocol for their evaluation. To achieve this, a methodology
is described for which the acronym “COMPARE” (Criteria and Objectives for Marine Protected ARea Evaluation) is coined. COMPARE also allows existing MPAs to be evaluated in terms of their efficacy, and can assess the effects of changes to either legislation or management of existing MPAs. As a first step, 14 objectives are defined that may be met by MPAs. These fall into three categories: biodiversity protection, fisheries management and human utilization. A series of criteria were then proposed which can be used selectively to quantify the degree to which MPAs meet these objectives. Each of the objectives is scored against the appropriate criteria in a semi-quantitative manner that allows areas to be compared, either overall or in terms of specific objectives. Simply by comparing the degree to which different types of MPAs might meet these objectives, it is clear that fishery reserves, proclaimed for the protection of individual commercial species, meet an extremely limited suite of objectives compared with marine sanctuaries that protect all species, or marine reserves, which protect all but a few species. Prominent among the advantages of COMPARE are that it compels an examination of all possible objectives, pinpoints the reasons for decisions, identifies issues
that need resolution and requires development of management plans. Its primary strategic advantage is that its implementation should lead to a rationally planned and defensible network of MPAs that will contribute
to the conservation of marine biodiversity in South Africa.

AJOL African Journals Online