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30 May 2017

Assessing the impact of a marine protected area on coastal livelihoods: A case study from Pantar Island, Indonesia

Ria Fitriana, 2014
Charles Darwin University


Global concerns about the need to conserve marine ecosystems have resulted in rapid growth in the establishment of formally protected marine conservation areas. The ecological benefits of marine protected areas (MPAs) are relatively well recognised, however, the extent to which MPAs improve the livelihoods of coastal peoples remains subject to debate. The aim of this research was to assess the potential impacts of the establishment of an MPA on coastal communities on Pantar Island, located in Nusa Tenggara Timur Province, in the eastern region of Indonesia. A subsidiary aim was to make practical recommendations that would minimise the negative impacts of an MPA and optimise the benefits for local people.

An assessment of Indonesia’s experience in establishing MPAs shows that community participation in the planning processes was encouraged but not comprehensive. Socioeconomic issues and concerns of communities have also not been adequately considered. Application of a sustainable livelihood analysis framework demonstrated that marinerelated activities were a major part of the diversified livelihood portfolio of coastal communities in and around Pantar Island. In addition, a wide range of activities were undertaken by the coastal villages to survive and cope in vulnerable conditions. Value chain analyses mapped selected marine products and identified the importance of seafood for food security of Pantar Island and income, how local communities are part of international market networks and ways to enhance the participation of local communities in the market. The research found that an MPA would potentially have negative short and long term impacts on coastal livelihoods which included changes to the level of coastal use, displacement of people from fishing areas, loss of access and rights to resources, and reduction in household income. Opportunities for strengthening livelihoods were identified. The research demonstrates the need for future MPA initiatives in Indonesia to improve the balance between conservation goals and livelihood outcomes.

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