Marine Conservation Agreements
A Practitioner's Toolkit
  • Recent Additions

May-June 2014:

2014 case studies are now available for the Penemu & Bambu MCA and the Koon MCA, both in Indonesia.

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See Also...

This Practitioner's Toolkit for Marine Conservation Agreements provides information for non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and eco-friendly businesses that are interested in understanding how agreement mechanisms, effectively culminating in payments for ecosystem services, can better assure success of ocean and coastal conservation efforts.

Purpose of the Toolkit

The Practitioner's Toolkit for Marine Conservation Agreements (MCAs) was developed to help conservation organizations determine:

  • What MCAs are
  • When MCAs can help abate threats to ocean and coastal species, habitats, ecosystem processes, and ecosystem services
  • How to plan and proceed with MCA projects

Marine Conservation Agreements Defined

Marine Conservation Agreements include any formal or informal understanding in which one or more parties commit to delivering explicit economic incentives in exchange for one or more other parties (usually right-holders) committing to take certain actions, refrain from certain actions, or transfer certain rights and responsibilities to achieve agreed-upon ocean or coastal conservation goals.

MCAs have also been called and are often associated with:

  • Community conservation agreements
  • Conservation incentive agreements
  • Leasing and ownership in ocean and coastal waters
  • Marine protected areas
  • Market-based strategies
  • Payments for ecosystem services
  • Proprietary rights of submerged lands
  • Submerged lands leasing

The Overview elaborates more on MCAs.

How to Use the Toolkit

The primary navigation method for the toolkit is in the left column of each page. The major components of the toolkit are organized in a logical progression of ideas and phases:

  • Overview provides the basic information about MCAs, then dispels myths and provides definitions of important terms
  • Field Guide can be downloaded in its entirety or reviewed online by practitioners wishing to evaluate and implement new MCA projects.
  • Field Projects can be reviewed for lessons learned and used as illustrative examples with potential funders and authorizing entities.
  • Country and State Analyses provide information on relevant laws and policies, opportunities for MCAs and management frameworks in specific geographies.
  • Resources provides supplemental information that is helpful in developing project proposals, such as funding sources, MCA-related publications, sample documents and agreements, workshop information, and U.S. State Maps.

Finally, for assistance navigating the toolkit, users can see the Help link on the upper right of each page or Contact Us.

Quick Downloads and Video

If you are short on time you can download one or more of the documents below:

You can also check out the Marine Conservation Agreements YouTube Channel.

About Us

The Nature Conservancy and several of our partners recognize the need to expand the tools we use to protect ocean and coastal biodiversity. In light of this, we developed the Practitioner's Toolkit for Marine Conservation Agreements. The toolkit was originally launched in January 2008 and is continually being improved with new information. Without the aid of our partners, the toolkit would not be what it is today. Read more >>

If you would like to contribute to the Toolkit, have comments or questions, or need further assistance, please Contact Us.


Submerged lands illustration: Justin Van Dyke. Header photos: Misool Eco Resort © Shawn Heinrichs, Blue Sphere Media. Local fisherman © Conservation International. Corals-Ecuador © Conservation International and NAZCA. Gulf of California and Port Susan Bay, Washington © The Nature Conservancy. Public boardwalk © Jay Udelhoven. Pelicans © Wendy Norden. Richardson Bay map © Audubon California. Vaquitas © WWF. Tropical overwater structures © Heike Schroeder

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