Marine protected areas (MPAs) are advocated as a key strategy for simultaneously protecting marine biodiversity and supporting coastal livelihoods, but their implementation can be challenging for numerous reasons, including perceived negative effects on human well-being.

This study synthesised and analysed research from 118 peer-reviewed articles that analyse outcomes related to MPAs on people.

It was found that half of documented well-being outcomes were positive and about one-third were negative. Regarding this, No-take, well-enforced and old MPAs had positive human well-being outcomes, which aligns with most findings from ecological studies. In relation to zonation, it was found that MPAs with single zones had more positive effects on human well-being than areas with multiple zones.

The authors highlight that well-being outcomes arose from direct effects of MPA governance processes or management actions and from indirect effects mediated by changes in the ecosystem. It is concluded that the findings of the study illustrate that both human well-being and biodiversity conservation can be improved through MPAs, yet negative impacts commonly co-occur with benefits.

Ban et al. (2019) Well-being outcomes of marine protected areas. Nature sustainability 2:524-532.