Participatory Marine Protected Area Management

Bruno Monteferri,
Publié: 28 septembre 2015
Dernière modification: 30 septembre 2020
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The local fishermen of Marcona (Ica, Peru), who benefit from the marine resources of San Fernando Cove (Ensenada de San Fernando), were engaged in participatory processes to create and categorize a National Reserve. The fishermen are active partners in current management through the Management Committee of the National Reserve of San Fernando.


Amérique du Sud
Ampleur de la mise en œuvre
Herbiers marins
Écosystèmes marins et côtiers
Acteurs locaux
Gouvernance des Aires protégées et conservées
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Manque d'autres possibilités de revenu
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Manque de capacités techniques
Manque de sensibilisation du public et des décideurs
Mauvaise gouvernance et participation


Marcona, Peru


natural resource use conflicts and limited involvement of local people Lack of involvement of local people in the establishment and management of marine protected areas results in natural resource use conflicts. Contributing factors include inadequate communication schemes and dialogues between marine protected area management authorities and local fishermen who use natural resources, specifically macroalgae.


community fishermen, protected area management authorities and local populations

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Creating appropriate dialogue between fishermen groups and PA authorities has been made possible thanks to: i) the fact that the local fishermen already had a strong Association, exerting good leadership and ii) that citizen participation is considered a basic condition in protected area management in Peru. Having the Fishermen’s Association play an important role as Presidents of the Management Committee gave legitimacy and recognition to this group as an important stakeholder, and at the same time has enabled more democratic decisions because they also need to consider other stakeholders’ views and positions. Today, the formalization of co-management through the management committee allows the Fishermen’s Association to feel recognized and involved in management decisions and provides a space for the protected area authority to carry out consultations and negotiations while considering the diversity of interests that prevail in the area. Recognizing macroalgae harvesting rights and assigning harvesting areas to each group, based on the previous agreements within the Fishermen’s Association, was key for determining mutual rights and responsibilities for the use of marine resources and surveillance and enforcement activities.


Traditional fishery rights are respected to avoid the tragedy of the commons. When the Reserved Zone of San Fernando was created, there was an increase in exploitation of marine macroalgae. In the following process to classify the Reserved Zone as a National Reserve, local fishermen were involved and the revenue they generate from resource collection was recognized as important to their livelihoods. This led to assignment of resource use rights, and it also ensured that fishermen contribute to control and surveillance. Co-management helped slow migration of more people from the highland in search of economic benefits from macroalgae use, who previously moved to the coast when harvesting was not controlled by the authorities. Conflicts are reduced at the local level. The creation of a Management Committee, which brings together the different associations of fishermen and other stakeholders, allows inclusion of different perspectives in management dialogues. This prevents tensions from becoming unmanageable, and creates a formal communication channel regarding the MPA. This helped with zoning permitted and not permitted uses in the MPA, as documented in the MPA management plan.


The San Fernando Reserve Zone is one of the most scenic landscapes of Peru, protecting the habitat of the Andean Condor, the Humboldt Penguin and the Guanaco, shaping a special conservation corridor that unites the coast with the Andes. Investigations made by a team from the Museum of Natural History of Natural Science of the University of San Marcos resulted in the discovery of previously unknown species. Based on these technical studies, the San Fernando area was proposed for designation as a National Reserve by a government commission as this category allows the sustainable use of natural resources. This was particularly important to recognize fishermen rights and also because since 2008, San Fernando has been a key area for macroalgae harvesting. Many local fishermen have begun to focus their activities on macroalgae harvesting, as their prices have increased considerably as a result of the increase in demand from the alginate industry. Local fishermen were initially against this declaration because they thought that they would be prohibited access and fishing in the National Reserve, based upon previous experiences. Precedents include Punta San Juan Reserve, a cape that belongs to the System of Guano Islands, and Capes National Reserve, which has been protected for more than a century and where fishing is not allowed. Thanks to the fact that the reserve categorization process took place in a participatory way, national protected area officials had the opportunity to clarify that current resource use activities in San Fernando would be respected. Resource Use Zones were assigned and the Fishermen’s Union defined which collectives would use and take care of each of the areas. Today, fishermen are part of the Management Committee, and although not everything is ideal and tensions still exist, there is now a way of dealing with issues through dialogue. Little by little, the fishermen start to look at the protected natural areas with new eyes. They see it as an opportunity to regulate the area and that it is not just five marine miles where there are no rules. They themselves are the ones who slowed migration from the Peruvian highlands and the resulting uncontrolled and illegal marine macroalgae harvesting activities, by defining an area where each collective depends economically on marine resources, thus ensuring that the area maintains its productivity.

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Bruno Monteferri Conservamos por Naturaleza

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Conservamos por Naturaleza, Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA)