Analyzing the impact of marine protected areas on coastal zones : A case-study of Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area, South Africa
Abstract: The ocean is, with its extraordinary ability to regulate the climate and absorb carbon dioxide, a vital ecosystem for all life on the planet. Moreover, the ocean is highly important for coastal communities as a source of income and nutrition, and as a consequence of increasing dependence it is becoming more significant to mitigate the effects of these anthropogenic activities on the ocean and its resources. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one of the policies implemented in order to diminish these impacts through the protection of high biodiversity areas by safeguarding nursing grounds for fish species, help remove excessive pollutants and nutrients and through the provision of more sustainable tourism and recreation opportunities. This thesis explores how MPAs influence coastal zones by assessing the environmental and economic impacts. Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area (ANEP MPA) has, due to the complexity of this social-ecological system, been used as a case study. The thesis will help relevant stakeholders to gain an understanding of the current progress being made and how the effectiveness of the MPA can be further improved. Furthermore, this thesis could be used as an example on how to balance environmental and economic development agendas in coastal communities. During this research, a case study design was used, where data was collected through ten in-depth interviews. During the interviews, the participants’ perceptions where gathered on how the establishment of the MPA has impacted the marine life, the local activities (marine tourism, fishing and ship-to-ship bunkering (STSB)) and the local environmental awareness. Afterwards, the data was analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings have shown that the establishment of the MPA has mixed results on the marine life and the local activities, which has led to a deficiency in the effectiveness of Addo Elephant National Park MPA. The local environmental awareness appeared to be too small, but whether or not the MPA contributed to growing awareness could not be said from the data alone. The data concluded that this lack of awareness led to a misuse of ocean resources, which aggravated due to a lack of enforcement. Furthermore, the overall enforcement within the MPA should be improved to enlarge the effectiveness of Addo Elephant National Park MPA.
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