Marine ecosystems such as the Faial-Pico Channel, in the Azores, provide stakeholders with a broad range of valuable ecosystem services, including fish and recreation opportunities for locals and tourists. The global decline of marine biodiversity as well as the diverging interests between sectors such as fisheries and tourism place challenges upon policy-makers, administrators, and managers. In a response to this challenge, Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers worldwide increasingly rely on stakeholder input to ensure that all views and values are considered. However, adequate management should not only reflect all of society’s views, but also be based on the best and most up-to-date knowledge.
A workshop coordinated by Ecologic Institute within the Azores Case Study brought together over 30 individuals from science (i.e. local and regional researchers), policy (e.g. local authorities, local parks, NGOs) and business (e.g. commercial and recreational fishing associations, tourist operators) to consider the current state and management of the Faial-Pico Channel MPA. It was also used to diccuss how scientific research and local stakeholder knowledge has informed decision making and management of the Faial-Pico Channel MPA, including how scientific results can be made more useful and accessible for stakeholders and policy-makers, how local and stakeholder knowledge has been taken into account alongside scientific results, and what type of new or improved information policy-makers might need in order to improve management of the MPA. Finally, the workshop was used to identify potential new options and processes for improving management of the Faial-Pico Channel.