Co-management of marine protected areas: Challenges and lessons from the most urbanized coastline of the South Western Atlantic

Ivan R. A. Laurino, Marina Marconi, Heidi L. Burdett, Helen Cross, Michel J. Kaiser, Dimitrios Christopoulos, Leandra Gonçalves, Fabio S. Motta, Guilherme H. Pereira-Filho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are powerful instruments to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems, if supported by an effective management structure. In Brazil, no-take and multiple-use MPAs have advisory councils that allow co-management as an important strategy to deal with conservation challenges, mainly in urbanized coastal areas. However, the profile of members and their perceptions regarding advisory council challenges remain poorly known. Here, we assessed the advisory management councils of the largest network of MPAs in the South Western Atlantic, situated next to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Seven MPA advisory councils were initially characterized through consultation with the MPA managers, followed by interviews with each advisory council member. We found that advisory council members were mostly agents of the local government, university scientists, members of local associations, and employees of non-governmental organizations. Compared with no-take MPAs, multiple-use MPAs tended to have greater diversity of member profiles in terms of institutional affiliation, gender, training level and age group. Although the majority of respondents considered the advisory councils an effective management tool, almost 30% of the interviewees did not recognize this mechanism as efficient, and the perceived capacity for advisory councils to respond to challenges was lower in no-take MPAs. This perception was attributed to a lack of complete actor inclusivity and the low decision-making power of advisory councils. There was a general agreement that no-take MPA advisory councils in particular are not achieving their sustainability goals and have progressed less than multiple-use MPAs in terms of co-management. To overcome this, we provide a series of recommendations to improve stakeholder participation and co-management of MPA operation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106972
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Early online date26 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • Conservation
  • Interview
  • MPA
  • Management council
  • Ocean governance
  • Sao paulo
  • Stakeholders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Oceanography


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