ASSESSING THE THEORETICAL EFFECTIVENESS OF MARINE PROTECTED AREA NETWORKS FOR HIGHLY MIGRATORY PELAGIC SPECIES IN A CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE: THE IMPLICATIONS OF CONCEPTUAL AMBIGUITY & INCONSISTENCY
As a result of increasing human pressures and global climate change, many populations of migratory species are facing wide scale population declines. In response, biodiversity conservation efforts have been directed at this suite of species in an attempt to stem such declines and promote population recovery. While research has proposed that networks of marine protected areas may have the potential to contribute to the conservation of migratory pelagics, MPA managers, planners and scholars possess diverse perspectives on such potential. This study synthesizes the state of knowledge depicted within the current scientific literature (2000-2018) as well as conveyed through expert interviews with regard to the utility of MPA networks for migratory pelagics. Results indicate that while networks of MPAs have the potential to provide effective conservation, and that a high level of agreement exists as to the important design and management components of effective MPA networks for migratory pelagics, three conceptual challenges require attention: (1) the lack of distinction between MPA ‘networks’ and MPA ‘systems’; (2) uncertainty regarding what constitutes an ‘MPA’; and, (3) how to incorporate dynamic approaches into MPA networks. As efforts to establish networks of MPAs continue to progress globally, and as work continues on a United Nations Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) instrument, it is essential that such challenges are thoroughly addressed.