A proliferation of marine protected areas around the world, including Europe and Southeast Asia, is evidence of a growing global concern for the marine environment and its living resources. While marine protected areas in Europe on a wider scale have generally been considered a tool for either nature conservation or a technical measure in management of fisheries, overall management objectives of marine protected areas in Southeast Asian countries have varied more significantly between countries and sites due to differences in societal needs and opportunities, spatial scales, environmental conditions and varying threats. These differences have resulted in different approaches to marine protected area development and management.
Management of the Northern European marine environment and its living resources is highly sectoral and largely determined by central directives and policies stemming from the European Union, such as the Habitats Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy. This paper however, will touch upon an ongoing evolution within the European Union from a strictly sectoral approach to marine protected areas and marine management, towards a more integrated, ecosystem approach to management of fisheries and the marine environment.
In Southeast Asia, marine protected area development is usually determined by individual governments, municipalities and coastal communities, based upon specific needs and settings. Examples of such marine protected areas in Vietnam and the Philippines will be described, including their underlying institutional frameworks and objectives such as tourism, management of artisanal fisheries, etc.
Examples of differences and similarities between Northern European and Southeast Asian marine protected areas will be presented and areas in which regions might learn from one another identified. For instance, where Southeast Asian protected areas have addressed the inevitable interdependency between healthy ecosystems and sustainable coastal fisheries for decades, marine protected areas in Northern Europe usually address either large scale management of stocks of individual fish species or nature conservation. Tourism has long been an overarching driving force in marine protected area implementation in SE Asia, while in Northern Europe especially this has only had little influence on overall objectives pertaining to the marine environment.