A Network of Community-Managed Marine Reserves: an Alternative to Permanent No-Take Zones?


John E. Parks, Robert S. Pomeroy, and Nick Salafsky.


World Resources Institute, 10 G Street NE,

Washington DC, 20002 USA. E-mail: jparks@wri.org.



It is estimated that over 70% of coral reefs in the Western Pacific are at risk of degradation from human activities including destructive fishing, overexploitation, and coastal development. To address such threats, the use of large, permanent no-take zones within coastal ecosystems is increasingly being cited by conservation practitioners as a panacea. At the same time, there is recognition that the assumed sustainability utility behind such measures has yet to be adequately documented, and that these zones often require a degree of managerial and financial resources that may not be available or appropriate everywhere coastal habitats are at risk. As a result, there is increased interest in the exploration of low-cost, low-technology alternatives to supplement more formal, permanent no-take areas. One such potential alternative is the use of networks of smaller reserves that can be temporarily designated and community-managed. An evaluative study of a few Western Pacific case examples suggests that while such networks may not provide the assumed protective benefits arising from larger, permanent areas, in some instances they can provide short-term benefits in regard to fisheries replenishment and biodiversity maintenance value. A conclusion arising from this evaluation is that the underlying assumptions behind such alternatives need to be more systematically tested across a larger portfolio of Western Pacific sites. As a consequence, a learning portfolio methodology is proposed that uses science to determine the conditions under which such alternatives operate most effectively.