People and Oceans

Managing marine areas for human well-being
Giselle Samonte (Conservation International), Leah Bunce Karrer (Conservation International) and Michael Orbach (Duke University)

People and Oceans examines the role of people in MMAs, including the human well-being benefits and challenges of MMAs, and how socioeconomic conditions affect success.

DOWNLOAD: People and Oceans (PDF - 11.5 MB)

Preferred citation: Samonte G, Karrer L, Orbach M. 2010. People and Oceans. Science and Knowledge Division, Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia, USA.


Marine Management Area Science Program
Each Marine Management Area Science (MMAS) study generates three types of products. Work plans clarify the research agenda, peer-reviewed articles ensure the results are valid and Science-to-Action products feed the scientific findings into decision-making. See all Science-to-Action Products.

This booklet demonstrates an awakening within the conservation community that the human relationship with coastal and ocean environments must be evaluated in cultural, social, and economic – as well as ecological – dimensions. The major insights from this booklet include:

  • People depend on oceans for food security, recreational opportunities, shoreline protection, climate regulation, and other ecosystem services.
  • Marine resources have tremendous economic value that far exceeds current investments in marine governance, and visitors often are willing to pay far more than existing user fees.
  • MMAs improve human well-being by diversifying livelihoods, enhancing incomes, and improving environmental awareness. They also pose challenges, including loss of access to fishing grounds, inequitable distribution of benefits, dependence on project assistance, and unmet expectations.
  • MMAs are influenced by socioeconomic and governance conditions, including benefits exceeding costs, shared benefits, improved livelihood options, strong community participation, accountable management style, supportive local government, enabling legislation, enforced rules, empowerment and capacity building, strong persistent leadership, and involved external agents.
  • Effective MMAs require strong enforcement, including both soft measures (i.e., education, partnerships) and hard measures (i.e., detection, interception, prosecution, and sanctions).
  • Approaches such as buyouts, conservation agreements, and alternative livelihoods provide positive incentives for altering human behavior.

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