Research Article

Perceptions of fishermen towards marine protected areas in Cambodia and the Philippines

Mark Hamilton

School of Biological Sciences, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK

Received:

30 Apr 2012

Accepted:

31 Aug 2012

Published:

16 Oct 2012

Volume:

5

Issue:

1

Keywords:

marine protected areas, artisanal fishery management, tropical fisheries, acceptance

Abstract:

Marine protected areas (MPAs) can be used to conserve parts of marine ecosystems, including fish stocks exploited by fisheries. Social acceptance of MPAs must be achieved if they are to function as effective management tools. Artisanal fishers operating around tropical coral reef areas were questioned in an attempt to investigate their acceptance and perceptions of MPAs. Fishers from two areas were surveyed: Koh Rong Island, Cambodia, where MPAs are a new concept to fishers, and Southern Leyte, the Philippines, where MPAs have been used in management for over 10 years. Fishers' opinions of MPAs from each study site were compared and variables affecting fishers' opinions of MPAs were also investigated at each site. Although small sample sizes of fishers were observed at each study site, results showed that the majority of fishers at each site accepted MPAs as a management tool. Cambodian fishers felt the state of marine resources had worsened in the past decade (with regards to the number of fish, the size of fish and the number of species present in their catch), whereas most Filipino fishers had noticed an opposite trend. Older Cambodian fishers had greater acceptance of MPAs; age did not affect Filipino fishers' acceptance, and did not affect any other opinions fishers had of MPAs at either site. Community-based management of MPAs was fishers' preference at both sites. The study shows evidence of MPA support in Cambodia, with mobile gear users being more willing to be involved in MPA management. Most Filipino fishers felt that their MPA improved their catches, although there was evidence of conflict between fishers since the MPA was implemented.

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