Prof. Gary Libecap is renowned for his work in environmental economics. So, we asked him to undertake some study, to find out what the international literature says on the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas.

We’re interested in the kōrero about Marine Protected Areas for two reasons. Firstly because they have the potential to impact Māori fishing rights in a monumental way – and the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is a perfect example of this. And secondly because we wanted to know if Marine Protected Areas actually are a successful measure for ecosystem protection.

If they are a necessary and successful measure to safeguard our ecosystem, then we’d need to incorporate this into our policy advice and discussions with iwi. If not, then it begs the question:

Why are Marine Protected Areas still proposed as the primary response to ecosystem protection when the adverse impact – in this instance to Māori rights, local communities and even the long-term effectiveness of alternative responses – outweighs the benefit?

This is precisely the question Prof Gary Libecap asked.

You can watch the talk he gave or read his presentation to see what he discovered. Dr Eric Crampton also gave a great run-down of the key points in his blog here.