Coral Reefs

, 26:1009 | Cite as

Customary management as precautionary and adaptive principles for protecting coral reefs in Oceania

  • S. AswaniEmail author
  • S. Albert
  • A. Sabetian
  • T. Furusawa


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.


Precautionary and adaptive management Indigenous ecological knowledge Sea tenure Marine Protected Areas Oceania 



We wish to thank the people of the Western Solomon Islands, and particularly the people of the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons for supporting our research, conservation, development, and education programs; the Provincial and National Governments of the Solomon Islands for permission to carry out our program over the past 15 years; and the Christian Fellowship Church for their continued support. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Grants 2001-17407 and 2005-447628-58080), Conservation International-GCF (Grant 447628-59102), the Pew Charitable Trust (through a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, 2005), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Grant 60243), and the National Science Foundation (Grant NSF-CAREER-BCS-0238539) have generously provided funds to Shankar Aswani for this research. Finally, we want to thank Greg Zarow and the anonymous reviewers for comments on this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Aswani
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Albert
    • 2
  • A. Sabetian
    • 3
  • T. Furusawa
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Marine Botany Group, Centre for Marine StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Marine Biology and AquacultureJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Division for International Relations and Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of MedicineThe University of TokyoBunkyo-ku, TokyoJapan

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