Estimating the Adaptive Capacity of Local Communities at Marine Protected Areas in Latin America: a Practical Approach

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"The establishment of marine protected areas (MPA) has become the prevailing management strategy to stop the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems; however, the effectiveness of MPAs is affected not only by ecological factors but also by social ones. Identifying and understanding socioeconomic conditions and the institutional context of fishing communities is essential to achieve success with MPAs. We propose a practical methodology for estimating the adaptive capacity (AC) of local communities to the establishment of MPAs. Adaptive capacity is defined as the ability of households to anticipate and respond to disturbances, natural or human induced, and to minimize, cope with, and recover from the consequences. We propose an index of adaptive capacity (IAC) of fishing communities that can be estimated at a local scale. This composite index comprises three dimensions, i.e., socioeconomic, social-ecological, and socio-political/institutional, which attempt to capture comprehensively the determinants of AC. Each dimension is constructed from three indicators, whose estimation is based on information collected from a household structured survey for which we suggested specific questions. We proposed the use of a Min function to highlight the weakest dimension of the IAC and guide decision makers with respect to elements that should be addressed to improve AC. A discussion about normalization and aggregation issues is also included."
sustainability, livelihoods, vulnerability, fisheries, marine resources, ecosystems