Toward a Social Science Research Agenda for Large Marine Protected Areas



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Conservation Letters


Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) are a high-profile trend in global marine conservation. Although the social sciences have become well integrated into marine protected area research and practice, human dimensions considerations have not been an early priority in the development of many LMPAs. This article argues that because LMPAs exhibit unique characteristics in form, function, and/or conceptualization, they warrant a distinct social science research agenda. We outline an agenda for social science research on and for LMPAs in four related themes: scoping of human dimensions, governance, politics, and social and economic outcomes. The article is informed by interviews, participant observation at the 2014 World Parks Congress, a literature review and the authors’ research experiences. LMPAs are at an early stage in what promises to be a globally significant, long-term project of ocean conservation and governance. There is a timely opportunity to translate relevant insights from decades of social science research to LMPAs and generate new knowledge, where necessary, to give them their best chance at biological and social success.



WPC, protected areas, marine