Governing from images: Marine protected areas as case illustrations

Authors: Ratana Chuenpagdee*, Raquel de la Cruz-Modino**, María José Barragán-Paladines***, Jenny Anne Glikman, Julia Fraga**, Svein Jentoft***, José J.Pascual-Fernández***

* TBTI Director; ** TBTI member; *** TBTI cluster coordinator

Governance starts with certain images about how the system that it aims to govern works. The extent to which stakeholders share these images determines the governability of the system. Investigating what these images are, what they constitute, and how they are expressed in governance interactions are important research questions. The authors approach these questions through conceptualizing images, how they influence institutional design and perceived governance outcomes, using marine protected areas (MPAs) as illustrations.

Surveys were conducted with three stakeholder groups, i.e. small-scale fishers, tourism operators, and managers and scientists associated with MPAs in three locations (Ecuador, Mexico, and Spain). The results show a high level of agreement among stakeholders across sites and suggest that incorporating knowledge about images in the institutional design and the day-to-day management of MPAs can help improve their governability and the overall governance.