Despite the recent increase in the use of Marine Management Areas (MMAs) for marine resource management, we still know little about how different types of MMAs (e.g., fully protected vs. various levels of partial protection) perform under different circumstances, nor do we have a comprehensive understanding of how ecological, socioeconomic and governance factors interact to influence MMA performance. To address this need, Conservation International is conducting a MMAs Global Management Effectiveness Study to examine ecological, socioeconomic and governance in 15 global sites. The main objectives of this study are to:

  1. Determine the socioeconomic, governance and ecological effects (outcomes) of MMAs;
  2. Determine the critical factors (ecological, socioeconomic and governance) that influence MMA effects, as well as the impact of the timing of those factors;
  3. Provide management tools for predicting MMA effects based on ecological, socioeconomic and governance variables, as well as outputs showing results of various management actions.

The Marine Integrated Decision Analysis System (MIDAS) is a software tool that addresses the third objective. It was developed to assist the MMA users and managers in understanding the critical factors that influence MMA effects so that they can plan accordingly, to estimate likely MMA effects based on the ecological, socioeconomic and governance conditions, and finally, to advise management plan revisions that will result in optimization of outcomes and outputs. MIDAS will help conservationists demonstrate the likely effects of a new MMA, and will enable conservationists working in existing MMAs to determine the likely effects of alternative strategies and therefore, where they should most effectively focus resources. User groups (such as fishers, tourism operators) and the general public can use MIDAS to understand how and why various ecological, socioeconomic and governance conditions are so critical for positive outcomes. Users and policy makers are encouraged to use the tool in an exploratory way to identify interactions of variables and potential outcomes. MIDAS could also be used as a diagnostic tool to identify specific problems in MMAs that could be further addressed or examined.

MIDAS is not designed to replace the decision-making process, but to provide an interface to perform a series of thought experiments or game play. MIDAS does not provide a categorical single answer to a given question, nor does it provide a single solution to a problem. MIDAS provides an intuitive graphic interface that displays key outputs and outcomes. This enables the potential outcomes of different levels of key factors to be compared. For example, the user can visualize the likely impact of fishing and coastal development on ecological sustainability.

Source of Data: MIDAS is based on the primary and secondary data gathered by Bob Pomeroy and Tammy Campson (University of Connecticut), Burton Shank (Boston University) and Craig Dahlgren (Perry Institute of Marine Science).

Funding: Funding for this project was provided by Conservation International.