The role of governance in how effectively marine protected areas in the Irish Sea reach their biological conservation objectives while maintaining sustainable use.
Marine life is facing increasingly serious threats due to human activity. A wide array of methods is currently applied to adequately manage and protect marine resources, such as establishing marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs are designed for the conservation of marine life in the face of exploitation and other threats related to human activity and should meet biophysical objectives while maintaining sustainable use; in other words, they must ensure long-term conservation of species and habitats while also considering their impact on surrounding human communities. An increasing number of studies are taking a holistic approach to assessing MPA success, accounting for both biophysical and socioeconomic outcomes. However, there is a clear gap in the literature relating to what types of governance structures may help achieve these desired outcomes. This doctoral thesis will focus on the Irish Sea because it is a busy waterway and home to a number of priority species. It is considered rich in biodiversity and should be adequately protected, but there is a lack of research on MPAs in the Irish Sea, despite it having almost 200 designations across 112 sites. To explore the state of MPAs in the Irish Sea, this research study will analyse the governance regimes of three MPAs and compare their effectiveness using ecological data from monitoring surveys and social data from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. The case study sites for this doctoral research are Strangford Lough (Northern Ireland), Carlingford Lough (Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland), and the Solway Firth (Scotland/England). This study will also identify any ecological data gaps in environmental assessments in the Irish Sea. The outcome of this study hopes to give conservation practitioners and policymakers new evidence on which to base more effective governance and management of MPAs.
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9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health
Schéré, C., Dawson, T., and Schreckenberg, K. (2020) Multiple conservation designations: what impact on the effectiveness of marine protected areas in the Irish Sea? International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 27(7), pp. 596-610. doi: 10.1080/13504509.2019.1706058