Position paper on stakeholder perceptions of MPAs


The purpose of this positon paper is to assess stakeholder perceptions towards the effectiveness of coastal and marine protection and management measures in the Mediterranean (Southern Adriatic-Northern Ionian region) and Black Sea (Western Black Sea). It aims to assess stakeholder observations of the impacts before and after the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), their perspectives towards management scenarios and how these scenarios may affect their interests in four pilot areas: Apulia and Albania marine area in the Mediterranean, the Danube Delta region at the border between Romania and Ukraine, the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine and the Tarkhankut Peninsula in Ukraine.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Ecosystem-based approach
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Habitats and Birds Directive
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What is stakeholder perception towards the effectiveness of coastal and marine protection and management measures in the East Mediterranean and Black Sea?
  • What is stakeholder perceptions towards future uses of the sea in the East Mediterranean and the Black Sea?

Implementation Context

This position paper was developed in the framework of the FP7 COCONET project. COCONET identified groups of putatively interconnected MPAs in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, shifting from local (single MPA) to regional (networks of MPAs) and basin (network of networks) scales. Aims of the project were: (i) enhance effective environmental management, (ii) verify whether existing MPAs are sufficient for ecological networking, and (iii) suggest how to design further protection schemes based on effective exchanges between protected areas. The project produced a set of guidelines to design, manage and monitor network of MPAs in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, creating a permanent network of researchers (e.g. through summer schools) that will work together also in the future.

Aspects / Objectives

The purpose of this paper is to assess stakeholder perceptions towards the effectiveness of coastal and marine protection and management measures in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The paper aims to assess stakeholder observations of the impacts before and after the creation of MPAs, their perspectives towards management scenarios and how these scenarios may affect their interests. Stakeholder views and perceptions are also analysed in order to understand the potential implications for future marine protection and management measures.


A case study area in the Mediterranean Sea and three case study areas in the Black Sea were selected: the Apulia - Albanian region (Southern Adriatic-Northern Ionian); the Danube Delta region (share by Romania and Ukraine); the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve (Ukraine) and the Tarkhankut Peninsula (Ukraine). These areas were selected to allow for a comparison of perceptions between EU and non-EU country stakeholders. The Apulia/Albanian and Danube Delta regions also allow for analysis of cross-border management areas.

A total of 88 individuals participated in the survey which included representatives from various sectors: fisheries, nature conservation, tourism, scientific research, administration and management, aquaculture and education. The following methodology was used in all study areas:

  • A review of socio-economic conflicts and MPA management strategies was conducted. Historical stakeholder perception studies were identified, collected and synthesized.
  • Using the collected data and knowledge from local partners, conflicts within each study area were identified.
  • All important stakeholders in the study areas were identified and contact details collected. A template was developed to assist local partners in this process.
  • Questionnaires were designed for each study area based on the previously identified conflicts. These were tailored to collect perceptions of future management scenarios specific to the study area.
  • Questionnaires were reviewed by task participants, re-designed (where necessary) and agreed prior to the interviews.
  • Stakeholders were interviewed using the questionnaire. Interviews were conducted either via email, phone or in-person. Answers where gathered and translated into English prior to analysis.
  • Completed questionnaires were analysed, synthesized, combined and discussed.
  • Conclusions were drawn based on the analysis and agreed by all task participants.

Main Outputs / Results

The perceptions of respondents regarding the effects of MPAs show a general belief that MPAs usually benefit conservation, recreational activities, tourism and scientific purposes, while they negatively impact the construction, extractive and navigation and transport sectors.

Most respondents, in both the Mediterranean and Black Sea, acknowledged that when MPAs are clearly beneficial to a particular sector (e.g. tourism) this sector should be developed. However, they expressed concerns about these developments and stated that sustainable, and ecologically sensitive, development should be encouraged.

For the Danube Delta region, most respondents believe existing conservation measures and plans, management and networking is insufficient. These respondents would like to see future: additional conservation measures; better protection for coastal integrity; the control of marine fisheries and water pollution issues; the enhancement of MPA networks and connectivity. To achieve these targets it is believed that a participatory approach involving all relevant parties needs to be developed.

It was stated by respondents that MPAs can improve water quality, lead to the protection of coastal integrity and help in the protection of rare and endangered species. Respondents also stated that MPAs have the potential to serve as a tool to enhance the cooperation between countries and sectors. Therefore, MPAs could be a method through which future conservation measures and actions could be delivered.

Respondents also highlighted their preferences towards future marine uses scenarios. Across all regions, there is a common consensus between respondents towards the extractive sector and that its activities should remain either constant or decrease. Similar perceptions exist towards oil and gas pipelines where respondents stated their desire for them to remain equal or slightly decrease - except in the Tarkhankut Peninsula (Ukraine, Black Sea) where some respondents stated their wish for a slight increase in the activities of this sector. Marine renewables, and in particular the development of offshore wind farms, is mostly envisaged as remaining constant or with a slight increase in the future. However, in Albania there seems to be a clear opposition towards the development of offshore wind farms in the region.


Data acquired through the questionnaire and information summarised in Coconet position paper can be useful for the identification of actions towards MSP implementation in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, in particular in relation to MPAs. Detailed results are of interest for several countries at national level (e.g. Italy, Romania) and for cross-border cooperation issues (e.g. Italy-Albania).

Contact Person

Paul Goriup

COCONET-WP6 Responsible partner

E-mail: paul.goriup@fieldfare.biz


Responsible Entity

COCONET Project: FP7 - OCEAN.2011-4 - GA no: 287844

Lead Partner – University of Salento IT, coordinator Ferdinando Boero


Costs / Funding Source

The entire budget of COCONET project was 9M€. Information on the specific budget used to develop the position paper on coastal and marine protection and management in not available.