Marine protected areas (MPAs) have the potential to support small-scale fishers in managing their resources. However, when the varying levels of fishers’ vulnerability to restrictions are not considered, MPAs can, often unintentionally, result in adverse impacts on livelihoods. In a recent paper from Meira’s PhD research in Myanmar, we took a spatial approach to identifying fishers who are most vulnerable to restrictions imposed by MPAs. We designed a method for identifying these individuals based on four socioeconomic factors pertaining to vulnerability to MPA changes – livelihood diversity, education, age and wealth – then applied this method in two island fishing communities in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago. We used empirical data collected from small-scale fishers in this area to represent each factor, then generated a local-level ‘livelihood impact potential index’ (LIPI) that reflects the degree to which a no-take MPA would affect an individual fisher’s ability to support his or her livelihood. When attributed to each fisher’s most frequented fishing ground, the LIPI can identify locations where MPA restrictions would be most detrimental to fishers’ livelihoods based on their levels of vulnerability.

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