An approach for integrating economic impact analysis into the evaluation of potential marine protected area sites

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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one tool that can be used in the comprehensive management of human activities in areas of the ocean. Although researchers have supported using MPAs as an ecosystem management tool, scientific research on MPAs in areas other than fisheries and fisheries management is limited. This paper presents a model for designing marine protected areas that protect important components of the ecosystem while minimizing economic impacts on local communities. This model combines conservation principles derived specifically for the marine environment with economic impact assessment. This integrated model allows for consideration of both fishery and non-fishery resources and activities such as shipping and recreational boating. An illustration of the model is presented that estimates the total economic impacts on Massachusetts' coastal counties of restricting fishing and shipping at certain sites in an area in the southern Gulf of Maine. The results suggest that the economic impacts on the region would differ according to the site in which shipping and fishing were restricted. Restricting activities in certain sites may have considerable impacts on local communities. The use of the model for evaluating and comparing potential MPA sites is illustrated through an evaluation of three different policy scenarios. The scenarios demonstrate how the model could be used to achieve different goals for managing resources in the region: protecting important components of the ecosystem, minimizing economic impacts on the local region, or a combination of the two. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Environmental Management