Where Small-Scale Fisheries Meet Conservation Boundaries: MPA Governance Challenges in Southern Brazil

  • Mirella de Oliveira LeisEmail author
  • Ratana Chuenpagdee
  • Rodrigo Pereira Medeiros
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 19)


Marine ecosystem health is threatened globally by overfishing and habitat damages, among other things, creating major challenges for the sustainability and governance of aquatic environments. With a push toward increasing coastal and ocean protection through spatial management measures, an overlap between these marine protected areas (MPAs) and small-scale fishing grounds is expected to occur. Since MPAs are never established in a vacuum, there is a need to account for the ecological, social, and governance contexts into which they are being inserted. However, such considerations are not common, and the lack of integration of these essential elements in the design and the implementation of MPAs has often resulted in lowering their governability. We illustrate this tendency using a case study of the Marine National Park of Currais Islands in Southern Brazil, which was established without any consultation with small-scale fishers whose livelihoods and well-being depend on the use of the area in question. Using a governability assessment framework, we examine the diversity, complexity, dynamics, and scale issues associated with the natural, social, and governing systems. In addition to revealing that governance of this MPA is a “wicked problem,” the study shows that the MPA adds more complexity to a system where issues such as lack of trust and low governing capacity exist.


Marine protected areas Small-scale fisheries Governance Marine National Park of Currais Islands Brazil Governability assessment framework 



The research was funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded “Too Big To Ignore: Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research” Partnership Grant (Grant number 895-2011-1011) and Memorial University of Newfoundland. The authors want to thank Drs. Sérgio Macedo Gomes de Mattos and Evan Edinger for their critical review of the earlier drafts. The authors are also grateful to the small-scale fishers from Pontal do Paraná municipality for sharing their time, knowledge, and experience.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirella de Oliveira Leis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ratana Chuenpagdee
    • 1
  • Rodrigo Pereira Medeiros
    • 2
  1. 1.Too Big To Ignore Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries ResearchMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Centro de Estudos do MarUniversidade Federal do ParanáParanáBrazil

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