Customary management as precautionary and adaptive principles for protecting coral reefs in Oceania
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- Aswani, S., Albert, S., Sabetian, A. et al. Coral Reefs (2007) 26: 1009. doi:10.1007/s00338-007-0277-z
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Marine conservation programs in Oceania are increasingly turning to precautionary and adaptive management, particularly approaches which emphasize local participation and customary management. Although the application of community-based natural resource management is widespread in the region, the full integration of local knowledge and practices into the design, implementation, and monitoring of community-based conservation programs has been limited. There is also little empirical data to show whether or not community-based conservation projects are meeting their stated objectives. This paper summarizes an integrated method for selecting Marine Protected Area (MPA) sites and presents empirical evidence that illustrates how an MPA that was largely conceived using indigenous ecological knowledge and existing sea tenure governance (i.e., customary management practices), as part of a regional precautionary and adaptive community-based management plan, is showing signs of biological and social success. More generally, the paper shows how hybrid natural and social research approaches in tandem with customary management for designing MPAs can protect coral reefs in Oceania.