To what extent does governance play a role in how effectively a marine protected area in the Irish Sea reaches its biological and socioeconomic goals?

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Marine life is facing increasingly serious threats due to
human activity . Greenhouse gases
released from the burning of fossil fuels have accelerated
global warming at an unprecedented rate, increasing ocean
temperatures and acidity with devastating consequences,
such as biodiversity loss . Human activity has also
directly affected marine life through overfishing, coastal
pollution, the introduction of invasive alien species, and
habitat destruction, with estimates that over 60% of global
fishery stocks have already collapsed or are overexploited,
with an additional one-third being fully exploited. A wide
array of methods is currently applied to adequately manage
and protect marine resources, such as ocean zoning,
regulating the harvest of species, enforcing catch limits, and
establishing marine protected areas (Levine et al., 2015).
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are designed for the
conservation of marine life in the face of exploitation and
other threats related to human activity, however they are
increasingly used for multiple goals, such as sustainable
fisheries and economic development (Christie & Pollnac,
2011). The most effective way to manage an MPA is widely
debated, with some experts calling for ecosystem-based
management for multiple species in favour of the traditional
single-species fisheries management approach. There is no
single definition of an MPA and the role of each one depends
on its specific objectives. MPAs should meet both biophysical
and socioeconomic needs (Pomeroy et al., 2005); in other
words, they must ensure long-term conservation of species
and habitats while also considering ecological, political,
economic, and social outcomes. While most studies consider
either the biological or the socioeconomic success of marine
protected areas, an increasing number of studies take a
more holistic approach to success, accounting for both
biological and socioeconomic outcomes in their assessments
. However, there is a clear gap in the literature relating to what kinds of
governance arrangements lead to better biological and
socioeconomic outcomes.
This doctoral thesis will focus on the Irish Sea because it is a
busy waterway and a strategic geopolitical location. As there
is no tunnel linking the islands of Great Britain and Ireland,
much of the exchange of goods and people is done via boat
across the Irish Sea. It is under the jurisdiction of six entities
(Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man,
Scotland, England, and Wales). While they are currently
members of the EU (save for the Isle of Man), and are thus
subjected to EU directives, such as the Marine Strategic
Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Birds & Habitats
directives, they each have their own national organisations
overseeing the implementation and management of marine
protected areas.
This research study aims to understand to what extent
governance plays a role in how effectively a marine protected
area in the Irish Sea reaches its biological and
socioeconomic goals. In other words, does the type of
governance influence or determine whether or not an MPA is
successful? There is a lack of research on MPAs in the Irish
Sea, in spite of almost 200 designations across 95 sites
(WDPA, 2019). To explore the state of MPAs in the Irish Sea,
this research study will analyse the governance regimes of
several case study MPAs and compare their effectiveness in
terms of reported biophysical and socioeconomic outcomes.
It will also identify any any data gaps in assessment reports. By
surveying and interviewing members of the local
communities, I will also be able to show how costal residents
view MPAs, their uses and impacts. Ultimately, I hope to give
MPA managers, policy-makers, scientists, researchers, and
other stakeholders evidence on which to base more effective
governance of their MPAs.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2287487 Studentship ES/P000703/1 01/10/2018 05/05/2022 Constance Schere