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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Studies

Tam, C.-L. (2015). Timing exclusion and communicating time: A spatial analysis of participation failure in an Indonesian MPA. Marine Policy, 54(0), 122-129. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2015.01.001

Abstract:Marine protected areas are promoted as a resource management tool for balancing ecological integrity with economic activity. However, MPAs frequently fail to achieve integrated, substantive outcomes. Participation failure is a common symptom of implementation failure. MPA experts often conclude that the remedy, in part, lies in better communication, with the implicit assumption that participation and communication are conjoined or synonymous. In this paper, the geography of communication in marine environments is analyzed as distinct from participation. It is argued that the logistical challenges of communicating in marine time and space must be taken into account beginning with the pre-implementation stage of an MPA; this requires recognition and analysis of the political nuances of whose space, whose time, and whose terms for communication. Research in Wakatobi National Park in Indonesia determined that marine managers and local communities have divergent experiences of participation, prompting three insights. First, the timing of public consultations must accommodate the variable rhythms of life in fishing communities in order to ensure broad representation. Second, co-presence in fishers’ space is critical for effective communication of marine knowledge and management strategies. Third, the deployment of ‘participation time’ by decision-makers communicates the value – or lack thereof – they place on fishing people and collaboration. The constructivist spatial analysis of communication presented here provides a model for MPA decision-makers and managers to identify, overcome and mobilize communication geographies that affect participation in sustainable development.

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