Weigel, J.Y.; Féral, F. & Cazalet, B., eds.
Governance of marine protected areas in least-developed countries. Case studies
from West Africa..
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 548. Rome, FAO. 2011. 78 pp.
The need for effective governance of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in leastdeveloped
countries (LDCs) is commensurate with the significant territorial
stakes raised by their extensive maritime domain. Another significant challenge
is the conservation of biodiversity and of ecosystems whose level of productivity
is similar to that of coral reefs (e.g. in East Africa and Madagascar, the Red Sea,
Maldives, Cambodia, and South Pacific islands), upwelling systems (e.g. in West
Africa and Angola) and estuarine and delta ecosystems (e.g. in West and East
Africa, Bangladesh and Myanmar). However, the overriding issue is to reconcile
conservation and human presence as, in LDCs, human activities are tolerated in
almost all MPAs covered by International Union for Conservation of Nature
categories II–VI. Finally, issues related to identity claims and to the process of
establishment of property and other legal entitlements on nature are gaining
A review of the literature on fisheries and MPAs governance showed how
polysemous and vague the notion of governance was until very recently and
how few or oversimplified were the analyses of MPA governance in the LDCs.
However, only detailed analyses would allow the characterization of governance
systems and identification of their weaknesses with the view to suggesting new
governance arrangements and appropriate public policy options. Such analytical
deficiencies may be explained by the lack of analytical frameworks capable of
taking into account the plurality and intricacy of socio-economic organizations
and institutions, the sociocultural features and the role of new mediators and
“development brokers” that shape MPA governance in the LDCs. The deficiencies
may also be explained by the fact that the dominating hierarchical governance
systems tend to underestimate the complexity of MPA governance systems.
Therefore, it has been necessary to develop an analytical framework to study the
governance of MPAs in the LDCs, drawing on four sources of inspiration: (i) the
interactive fisheries governance approach; (ii) the risk governance approach; (iii) the
socioanthropology of mediations and brokerage; and (iv) the governance analytical
framework. The framework indicates the five issues that must be addressed in
order to operationalize the concept of governance in LDC MPAs: (i) definition
of the problem or the issue at stake; (ii) identification of the set of relevant
governance norms; (iii) presentation of the actors involved in the governance
process; (iv) highlighting the nodes around which actors’ strategies converge; and
(v) recalling the processes that have led to the current state of governance. This
analytical framework makes it possible to characterize the governance system of
each of the MPAs considered and to develop a typology of these systems. The
characterization of different governance systems highlights their weaknesses and paves the way for new public policy options and, more generally, for the
restructuring of governance to correct these weaknesses.
However, prior to the development of the analytical framework and the
characterization of governance systems, the main MPA governance principles and
constraints, as well their legal context, must be clarified. The whole methodology
was tested on three West African coastal and marine protected areas, which seemed
to provide textbook cases illustrating the difficulties of governance in LDCs: the
Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania, the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve
in Senegal, and the Bolama Bijagos Archipelago Biosphere Reserve in Guinea-
Bissau. The analysis of demographic and economic constraints in these West
African MPAs showed the importance of: (i) increasing population density and
mobility; (ii) the intensification of resource exploitation; and (iii) and the opening
of the MPA economy. The analysis of the legal and institutional contexts showed
the international inspiration of the MPA objectives and conservation arrangements,
and the syncretism of the legal system.