Evolution and Future Management of Marine Protected Areas

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Nicholas A. Funicelli

Second Advisor

David W. Kerstetter

Third Advisor

Amy C. Hirons


It is a common misconception that the oceans are homogenous and limitless, making them infinitely resilient to environmental or anthropogenic impacts. Unfortunately, there has been an increased need in recent years for the protection of the marine environment, primarily due to the depletion of natural resources, critical habitats, and threatened species. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are becoming a popular tool for promoting long-­‐term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of marine resources.

Using a review of literature, this capstone will discuss current traditional fisheries management approaches for MPAs, while illustrating how human dimensions in both the development and management processes dictate the success or failure of MPAs worldwide. While conventional fisheries management theoretically makes sense, unpredictable ecosystem variability and economic incentive to heavily fish require a more innovative management regime. This paper will provide recommendations for a more holistic management approach for future MPAs by integrating ecological goals with sociological and economic considerations. It is imperative that both current and future MPAs become dynamic and willing to incorporate new conventions, policies, and directives as they present themselves.

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