By Sheril Kirshenbaum
McClanahan, T., J. Davies, et al. (2005). “Factors influencing resource users and managers’ perceptions towards marine protected area management in Kenya.” Environmental Conservation 32(1): 42-49.
Tim McClanahan is a Senior Conservation Zoologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. In this article, McClanahan et al. explore the social side of marine protected area management by surveying both Park and Fisheries service managers and fishers living adjacent to the parks on perceived benefits of instituted management regulations in Kenya. They looked at factors such as wealth, education, age and years of employment, history of community participation and length of MPA designation to see how these might correlate with both groups’ opinions. Although it was universally agreed that area management benefits the nation, there were great disparities among groups because of mistrust and poor understanding of the purpose of restrictions. Positive perceptions of management were correlated with a secondary education and a longer instituted MPA. Even though the survey took place in Kenya, the key message of this study is universal. Shared attitudes are not essential to achieve the benefits of marine management, however we need to achieve a great recognition of the indirect benefits through improved communication.
This kind of research is important because we can learn from historical management why some institutions work and what factors may be the most significant in compliance. McClanahan et al. point out that without involvement and support of primary stakeholders, MPAs will fail to fulfill management objectives.
Traditional management was biologically based by protecting the natural system and attempting to predict the manner in which stocks would recover over time through simple input and output control mechanisms (area closures, gear restrictions, limited access programs, etc). The social dimensions McClanahan et al. consider are directly in line with EBM principles because human behavior is a huge component of the ecosystem. With increased emphasis on how and why we make decisions, new initiatives will be developed with a higher likelihood of acceptance and success.