Sea Change: Exploring the International Effort to Promote Marine Protected Areas
Noella J. Gray
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Citing multiple threats to marine biodiversity and resources, the international marine conservation community is promoting greater adoption of marine protected areas (MPAs). Like terrestrial protected areas, MPAs are characterised by debates over the appropriate role for scientific input and citizen participation and how to balance concerns for both social equity and ecological effectiveness. This paper explores how such debates are influencing the framing of MPAs as a global policy tool, based on an 'event ethnography' conducted at the 2008 World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. International non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dominated the discussions and agenda setting, although multiple concerns for MPAs were incorporated into the discussions. The framing of MPAs highlighted a global scale and vision, reflected by and reinforcing the dominant role of the big NGOs. However, it did not go unchallenged, nor is it prescriptive.