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COFI, at its 26th session in 2005, recommended that FAO develop technical guidelines on MPAs for fisheries management and discussed the issues again at the 27th session of COFI in 2007, stressing the importance of basing the establishment of MPAs on the best available information, good design and proper implementation with stakeholder participation. In response, FAO began work on MPAs and organised an Expert Workshop on MPAs and Fisheries Management on 12-14 June 2006. The work on an outline and draft of the guidelines followed. Currently, most of the published guidelines available for the use of MPAs have been compiled with a habitat conservation focus. Hence, guidelines on MPAs from a fisheries management perspective are required to fill this gap in the literature. A series of worldwide case studies was launched to gather experience in implementing policies and establishing MPAs (see MPA Case Studies for more information).  The case studies are now nearing completion and the knowledge gained will be used to supplement and enhance the guidelines.


Purpose and target audience

The FAO Technical Guidelines on MPAs as a Fisheries Management Tool (the MPA Guidelines) aim at providing information and advice on MPAs in the context of fisheries management. Within this setting, the purpose is not only to address MPAs when used directly for fisheries management, but also to discuss the implementation of MPAs with multiple objectives, i.e. when fisheries management is one, but not the only, objective. The MPA Guidelines seek to clarify the potential effects of MPAs on fisheries, the fishery resource, and on the ecosystem including biological, physical and socioeconomic aspects. The importance of using spatial management tools such as MPAs within a reconciled framework (i.e. where fisheries management objectives exist in tandem with other sectoral objectives) and of their integration into overall policy frameworks is stressed. Guidance on MPA design, implementation, monitoring and adaptation is provided and the main challenges and opportunities relevant to these processes are discussed. 

The target audience for the MPA Guidelines include policy and decision makers, fisheries managers and fisheries scientists (in developing and developed countries from different fisheries management circumstances and contexts). The MPA Guidelines will also be of interest to ecologists and conservationists, and officials and staff in environment ministries, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations and other organisations involved in the promotion, planning and implementation of MPAs from a conservation perspective who would like to learn more about their implications and usages with respect to fisheries.

As the other documents in the series FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries, the MPA Guidelines are developed in support of the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Although prepared as a stand-alone document, the guidelines also complement the other Technical Guidelines relevant to fisheries management.


Structure and main components

The MPA Guidelines are structured to give background on MPAs as a fisheries management tool, describe the effects of MPAs on ecosystems and people, consider the policy context of MPAs, and give guidance on the design and implementation of MPAs.

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