A tool for site prioritisation of marine protected areas under data poor conditions
Marine Policy, Vol. 36 No. 6 Pages: 1290-1300
2012 | DOI
AbstractA challenge of managing data poor fisheries lies in overcoming uncertainties associated with a lack of information on biological and socio-economic conditions. This paper focuses on site prioritisation for marine protected areas, a process that usually imposes moderate to heavy demands on data, time, local expertise, and funds. A fuzzy logic decision support tool for zoning marine areas that is suitable for use in data poor conditions is developed. This tool, the Protected Area Suitability Index (PASI), assesses the suitability of sites for protection based on fishers’ preferences for that site and the site’s conservation value. Only eight input attributes are required to run the PASI, which operates on a series of heuristic rules to estimate a site suitability score that ranges from 0 to 10, where 10 indicates that a site is highly suitable for being protected from fishing. Sensitivity analysis reveals that the PASI is relatively robust, and produces reliable results even as the system is degraded by the loss of data. Eighteen actively fished sites and 11 sites that are closed to fishing are assessed to evaluate how well the PASI is able to distinguish differences between sites. The estimated scores are significantly different (p<0.05), whereby non-fished sites are scored as being more suitable for protection than fished sites. The PASI can be used as a decision support tool to facilitate systematic marine spatial management under data poor conditions, especially in the task of identifying suitable sites for protection.