Social perception is key to the success of biodiversity conservation policies. A range of socioeconomic guilds can be affected by marine conservation. Among them, fishers are the ones most likely affected and affecting Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

This study assessed the perceptions on sustainability of a type of multiple-use MPA, Fishing Reserves (FRs) in Spain, by broad spectrum of national and local stakeholder organisations pertaining to six socioeconomic sectors via two online surveys in Spain.

The results of the surveys showed that Spanish FRs were regarded as sustainable marine management tools by most marine and coastal stakeholders, with environmental effects perceived to be more positive than social and economic ones, respectively. However, primary sector organisations stated null or negative effect of FR designation on their activities, although official statistics showed a moderate to large increase in a number of professional fishing-related variables, including number of boats and crews, after designation of most FRs.

Suggestions provided by stakeholders included, managerial improvements for increased socioeconomic sustainability of Spanish FRs by the professional fishing guild included: greater stakeholder engagement in FR designation and operation, more flexible fishing regulations and stricter control of recreational fishing.

Rodríguez-Rodríguez et al. (2019)Social and economic sustainability of multiple-use marine protected areas in Spain: A mixed methods, multi-scale study. Ocean and Coastal Management 171:47-55.