FAO Fisheries Department

Governance of marine protected areas in least-developed countries. Case studies



This document is a synthesis of Les aires marines protégées d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

Gouvernance et politiques publiques (Weigel et. al, 2007) which proposes 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.

In order to develop an analytical framework and the characterization of governance systems

the main MPA governance principles and constraints, as well their legal context, were

clarified. This was done by testing the proposed methodology in three West African coastal

and marine protected areas, which illustrated 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.