Lauren Dehens, MMM Candidate

Dalhousie University, Marine Affairs Program

Hi there! My name is Lauren Ashley. To make my soul happy, I turn to photography, outdoor adventures, and dessert. Most importantly however, my passion lies with the ocean and all that lives within it. I have explored the marine environment through many dimensions, from tropical atolls in Belize, humpback whales in the Pacific, to intertidal zones in the Atlantic. I am a strong believer in compassion, creativity, and conservation.

Supervisor(s): Dr. Lucia Fanning

Start to Finish: 9/2015 to 12/2016

CHONe Project: 1.1.4: Development of indicators for assessing marine conservation success and spatial management effectiveness.

Project Title: What Counts in Making Marine Protected Areas Count? The Role of Legitimacy as a Contributor to Perceived MPA Success.

Project Description:

Over the past decade, marine protected areas (MPAs) have become one of the most powerful marine management tools used worldwide for conserving species and habitats, maintaining ecosystem functioning, and ensuring sustainable use of marine resources. However, many MPAs are not effective; often times failing to meet their management objectives due to a lack of “legitimacy”, or acceptance, given by the people that are affected by the MPA (i.e. the stakeholders). This has led to the theory that if an MPA is not legitimate, it will likely not be effective. Stemming from this theory, my research is focused on examining the social aspects of marine protected area effectiveness by exploring the factors that shape stakeholders’ perceptions of MPA effectiveness, and the extent to which these factors contribute to the level of legitimacy stakeholders afford to an MPA. I will be conducting interviews with various stakeholders from two MPAs in Atlantic Canada: Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, and Basin Head in P.E.I., as an attempt to better understand stakeholders’ expectations and desires from an MPA in order for them to afford it legitimacy and perceive it as effective. It is anticipated that this research will allow valuable advice and recommendations to be given to MPA managers on how to better recognize and measure legitimacy as an important element of MPA effectiveness.

The specific project aims are:

  1. Accurately understand stakeholders’ perceptions of MPA effectiveness and legitimacy, in terms of the level of importance they place on a series of factors
  2. Reveal gaps between academic, management, and stakeholder perceptions of MPA effectiveness, in terms of legitimacy.
  3. Provide recommendations to MPA managers in Canada towards better recognizing and measuring legitimacy as an important component of MPA effectiveness.

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada has committed to having 10% of its oceans protected through the use of MPAs by the year 2020, with eight sites currently underway for designation. As a part of the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, this project will deliver new social science knowledge that will improve the formation and management of these future policies relating to the conservation of Canada’s oceans, a mandate of this network.