Constance Schéré

Thesis title:

The role of ecosystem management 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 manage and protect marine resources, such as establishing marine protected areas (MPAs). There is no single definition of an MPA and the role of each one depends on its specific objectives. MPAs should meet both biophysical objectives while maintaining sustainable use; in other words, they must ensure long-term ecological conservation of species and habitats while also considering socioeconomic outcomes. However, the effectiveness of MPAs remains largely debated, as many studies consider either the biological or the socioeconomic success of MPAs. A more universal approach to MPA management should be taken, one that address the concerns of the entire MPA ecosystem. This doctoral thesis assesses MPA effectiveness, using the Irish Sea as a case study because it is busy waterway with a rich biodiversity that remains understudied in terms of its conservation. Indeed, there is a lack of research on MPAs in the Irish Sea, despite having almost 200 designations across over 110 sites. To explore the state of MPAs in the Irish Sea, this research study first identifies gaps in their management and monitoring to determine whether there are any paper parks – MPAs that exist solely on paper and lack active management and monitoring. This thesis then addresses the issue of equity (as called for by the Convention on Biological Diversity) in three case-study MPAs (Strangford Lough, Carlingford Lough, and the Solway Firth) to better understand stakeholder perceptions. Ecological site conditions and their monitoring are subsequently explored, using intertidal mudflats at Strangford Lough and the Solway Firth as a case study habitat. This doctoral research calls for a more ecosystem-based approach to MPA management, supported by adequate resources from the institutions responsible for them.

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First supervisor:

Kate Schreckenberg


9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health




Bailey J.J., Cunningham, C.A., Griffin, D.C., Hoppit, G., Metcalfe, C.A., Schéré, C.M., Travers, T.J.P., Turner, R.K., Hill J.K., Sinnadurai, P., Stafford R., Allen D., Isaac N., Ross B., Russi D., Chamberlain B., Harvey Sky N., McKain S. (2022). Protected Areas and Nature Recovery. Achieving the goal to protect 30% of UK land and seas for nature by 2030. London, UK. Available at: 

Schéré, C.M., Schreckenberg, K., Dawson, T.P., and Jones, N. (2021) It’s just conservation: to what extent are marine protected areas in the Irish Sea equitably governed and managed? Frontiers in Marine Science. pp. 1-17. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.668919

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

Constance conducted her LISS-DTP internship working with the LPO (French partner of BirdLife International) on the Sept-Îles marine protected area in her native Brittany, France. She led a study on MPA governance and assisted in ecological monitoring of the reserve.