MPA policy: What lies behind the science?


Caveen AJ, Gray TS, Stead SM & Polunin NVC (2013) MPA policy: What lies behind the science?. Marine Policy, 37, pp. 3-10.

What the current policy debate on marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine reserves (MRs) has failed to address is the fact that protection of the marine environment has as much to do with scientists, and others values as it has to do with science. To date natural science has played a dominant role in the implementation of MPAs, yet normative considerations which are embedded in the way scientists and the wider community think about the condition the marine environment should be in, and which may influence decision-making, are rarely acknowledged or discussed. This paper seeks to correct that deficiency by investigating the values that lie behind the natural science of MPAs. With the aid of epistemic community, advocacy coalition and discourse coalition theories of policy networks, this article explores the role science and scientists have played in influencing policy on MPAs at the global and national level, and looks at the extent to which normative conceptualisations within and beyond natural science have influenced the debate.

Marine protected areas; Marine reserves; Science-policy; Epistemic communities; Advocacy coalitions; Discourse coalitions

Marine Policy: Volume 37

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/01/2013
Publication date online18/05/2012
Date accepted by journal18/05/2012