Author(s): Rassweiler A, Costello C, Hilborn R, Siegel DA
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Abstract Marine spatial planning (MSP), whereby areas of the ocean are zoned for different uses, has great potential to reduce or eliminate conflicts between competing management goals, but only if strategically applied. The recent literature overwhelmingly agrees that including stakeholders in these planning processes is critical to success; but, given the countless alternative ways even simple spatial regulations can be configured, how likely is it that a stakeholder-driven process will generate plans that deliver on the promise of MSP? Here, we use a spatially explicit, dynamic bioeconomic model to show that stakeholder-generated plans are doomed to fail in the absence of strong scientific guidance. While strategically placed spatial regulations can improve outcomes remarkably, the vast majority of possible plans fail to achieve this potential. Surprisingly, existing scientific rules of thumb do little to improve outcomes. Here, we develop an alternative approach in which models are used to identify efficient plans, which are then modified by stakeholders. Even if stakeholders alter these initial proposals considerably, results hugely outperform plans guided by scientific rules of thumb. Our results underscore the importance of spatially explicit dynamic models for the management of marine resources and illustrate how such models can be harmoniously integrated into a stakeholder-driven MSP process.
This article was published in Proc Biol Sci
and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species