Optimizing voluntary compliance in marine protected areas: A comparison of recreational fisher and enforcement officer perspectives using multi-criteria analysis
A comprehensive list of planning criteria for optimizing compliance in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was compiled and used to compare the views of recreational fishers and compliance officers for facili- tating voluntary compliance in the Port Stephens e Great Lakes Marine Park (PSGLMP). Expert working groups were tasked separately with: 1) criteria identification and weighting; 2) scoring of no-take zones; 3) prioritizing and determining uncertainty; and 4) analysis of results and sensitivity testing. Multi- Criteria Analysis (MCA) revealed that both groups had similar perspectives and recommendations, despite weighting the individual planning criteria differently. Significantly, “manageability” scores for no-take zones from MCA appeared to correlate well with past numbers of enforcement actions recorded for each zone. This provides empirical evidence that adopting manageability criteria during the planning of MPAs could lead to a marked increase in voluntary compliance. As a result, greater consideration to compliance planning during MPA design and zoning is recommended in order to optimize voluntary compliance. Whilst the majority of no-take zones in the PSGLMP case study were evaluated as being relatively effective in terms of optimizing voluntary compliance, there remains considerable potential to improve design, management and use of the poorer performing zones. Finally, the study highlighted the value of recreational fisher engagement in MPA planning processes to maximize voluntary compliance and manageability.