Question: What conservation actions can be implemented using MCAs?
Answer: A variety of conservation actions can be taken to implement Marine Conservation Agreements, such as administration, outreach, funding, livelihoods, enforcement, science, public use, habitat management, planning, community development, and maintenance.
Marine Conservation Agreements (MCAs) can be used to achieve a diversity of conservation goals related to a variety of conservation targets. In doing so, a number of in-water and out-of-water actions can be implemented under MCAs. It is, however, not possible or desirable for the purposes of this toolkit to list and categorize all of the potential actions that organizations can undertake within ocean and coastal environments through MCAs. Besides being a nearly inexhaustible list, implementing actions are site and goal-specific, which makes attempting to identify a comprehensive list potentially misleading. Site-specific circumstances will vary significantly as local laws, policies, and practices might prohibit some actions and seriously restrict others. Consistent with other aspects of MCAs, knowledge of the local circumstances is essential before beginning a project.
Phase 4 of the MCA Field Guide provides conservation organizations with a broad spectrum of potential actions that can be implemented through MCAs , iincluding actions related to administration, outreach, fundraising, livelihoods, enforcement, science, public uses, habitat management, planning, community development, and maintenance. In addition, the World Conservation Union has developed a more comprehensive, standardized taxonomy of conservation actions that may be helpful to organizations during site-specific planning activities.
For the purposes of this toolkit, implementing actions relating to the conservation of the oceans and coasts can generally be divided into two categories: in-water and out-of-water actions.
In-water Conservation Actions
In-water actions can include:
- Scientific research, monitoring, and reporting (see Field Guide 4.6 Science)
- Habitat improvement and species propagation via restoration, enhancement, or creation (see 4.8 Habitat)
- Preservation, which maintains the status quo by preventing degradation via development or other incompatible uses (see 4.8 Habitat)
- Maintenance activities including general cleanup and signage (see 4.11 Maintenance)
- Public access and recreation (see 4.7 Public Uses)
- Management and enforcement activities including site visits to record of human uses, control of harvesting activities and prevention of encroachment (see 4.5 Enforcement Actions)
In general, organizations may undertake one or more in-water actions when they enter into an MCA with the land or resource owner, user, or manager. Requirements are site-specific and should be investigated thoroughly before undertaking any activities. Some in-water actions, such as surveillance and general cleanup, if done alone may not require an MCA. Also, regulatory permits may be required.
Out-of-water Conservation Actions
Out-of-water actions can include:
- Planning (see 4.9 Planning)
- Adjacent landowner and public outreach, education, and collaboration (see 4.2 Outreach)
- Community and livelihood development (see 4.4 Livelihoods and 4.10 Community Development)
- Fund raising (see 4.3 Funding)
- Administration (see 4.1 Administration)
In most cases, conservation organizations will likely not need MCAs with land and resource owners, users or managers to undertake out-of-water actions. However, some MCAs may facilitate or authorize these actions as independent actions or in conjunction with in-water actions. Whichever the case, engagement and collaboration with land or resource owners, users or managers prior to undertaking out-of-water conservation actions is still wise and beneficial.
Area-specific Laws and Policies
Depending on the area-specific laws and policies, conservation organizations that enter into MCAs may be able to undertake all or some of the above implementing actions. The list of in-water actions above represents the suite of potential actions that could be undertaken with an agreements. Exactly which of these will be allowed in any specific area is subject to several factors and is heavily influenced by the laws and practices affecting the public or private owners, users and managers.