In the June 2019 issue of Nature Sustainability, EarthLab’s Sara Breslow and researchers from 10 other institutions share their insights gleaned from 118 peer reviewed journal articles of the effects of marine protected areas (MPAs). But their inquiry differed from most studies about MPAs – what, they asked, are the effects MPAs on human well-being? The literature is full of examples that document the ecological effects of marine protected areas, but information is lacking on the overall effects MPAs have on the human communities connected to them.
Their findings indicate that the majority of the measured effects of MPAs have a positive effect on people, while about one-third have a negative effect. Most studies focused on economic and governance aspects of an MPA, and thus many of the social, health and cultural effects remain unexplored. Their synthesis was global, including all populated continents, with the majority of studies coming from Europe and Asia.