The USAID SEA Project, now in its third year of operations, is deeply involved in addressing the challenges facing fisheries management and marine biodiversity conservation in Indonesia. This issue of Talking SEA focuses on the need for, and challenges of, improving the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Indonesia.
USAID SEA Project team, are working directly in 15 MPAs in eastern Indonesia and learning a great deal about the realities of MPA management at the provincial, district, and village levels. With our practical and scientific results of recent years, we know that well-managed MPAs contribute substantially to the maintenance of marine ecosystems, their productivity in terms of fisheries, and provide real economic and food security benefits to coastal communities. We also know that it is essential that a portion of any MPA needs to be totally protected from extraction and harm from human use so that organisms can reproduce and the ecosystem can function normally.
However, an ongoing challenge for MPAs in Indonesia – and especially for fully-protected sites such as no-take zones within them – is that they are often seen as being incompatible with traditional-use patterns and as marginalizing the people dependent on them for food and income. Thus, the planning, implementation, and management of MPAs must consider the human communities and institutions that are usually the default decision-makers for resource utilization and protection. Experience from MPAs in Indonesia and other countries confirms that planning for MPAs needs to be sensitive to context (social, cultural, and environmental). Three interrelated factors are essential to improving the overall capacity and effectiveness of MPAs: 1) Well designed and effectively-managed MPAs; 2) Monitoring, evaluation, and response-feedback systems; 3) Integration of socioeconomic factors supporting MPAs.
Finally – and highlighted in this issue – it is essential to including key stakeholders, from the start of establishing a new MPA through zoning and management planning. For while the national government is tracking overall coverage of ‘legally’ protected areas to achieve its national and international targets, these numbers mean little if local communities are not fully engaged and the legally protected areas are not under ‘effective’ management: this is the real challenge for us all.
Please read and enjoy our Talking Sea by downloading the file below: