The effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) and the conservation of marine environments must be based on reliable information on the quality of the marine environment that can be obtained in a reasonable timeframe. We reviewed studies that evaluated all aspects related to the effectiveness of MPAs in order to describe how the studies were conducted and to detect fields in which research is lacking. Existing parameters used to evaluate the effectiveness of MPAs are summarised. Two-hundred and twenty-two publications were reviewed. We identified the most commonly used study subjects and methodological approaches. Most of the studies concentrated on biological parameters. Peer reviewed studies were based on control vs. impact design. BACI and mBACI designs were used in very few studies. Through this review, we have identified gaps in the objectives assigned to MPAs and the way in which they have been evaluated. We suggest some guidelines aimedat improving the assessment of the effects of protection in MPAs.
Marine conservation, Management, Assessment, Descriptors, Subject of study, Marine protected areas
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