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Design optimisation of a marine protected area network in Algarve (Portugal)
da Cunha Simões, R. (2018). Design optimisation of a marine protected area network in Algarve (Portugal). MSc Thesis. University of Algarve: Algarve. 53 pp.

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Document type: Dissertation

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  • da Cunha Simões, R.

    Isolated marine protected areas, although an essential tool for the management and conservation of marine species and habitats, may not be enough to sustain viable populations. This is particularly true for small coastal MPAs, usually constrained by social, economic and political reasons. When properly established, MPA networks are more than the sum of MPAs due to the synergistic effects. Despite the efforts of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the World Parks Congress in preparing conservation strategies and proposing effective targets for biodiversity protection, it is highly unlikely that they will be met in time. With the aid of conservation planning software like Marxan and MinPatch, this project offers a framework, with various no-take areas proposals in a regional and local scale, taking into account fishing intensity, species and habitat distribution while considering the home range areas and dispersal distances of key marine species. The framework prepared is based on a ranking system that allows to set conservations targets based on the ecological relevance of habitats and the species conservation status. Two different sets of protection levels are suggested, an ambitious 30% protection scenario and a more budget-friendly variable protection scenario. Nevertheless, several constraints need to be addressed with care by both stakeholders and scientific community, to guarantee the success of the MPA's. With this approach, that can be applied anywhere, the first step towards discussion between stakeholders can be taken.

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