||Comanagement is practiced in many countries and recommended as an appropriate, equitable
and effective approach to place-based, marine resource management. However, few examples
of collaboratively managed marine protected areas (MPAs) involving government and
community partners are found in the United States (U.S.). Efforts to share management
of MPAs by the state and local communities have emerged in Florida, Hawai‘i, and California.
These cooperative agreements demonstrate an alternative to the top-down, centralized
government approach to natural resource management commonly practiced in the U.S.
What conditions enabled or challenged the emergence of comanagement for these MPAs?
How have local community norms, values and knowledge contributed to marine resource
problem-solving in each case? Can experiences drawn from these cases inform or improve
MPA management in other states? Recent legislation requiring the State of New York
to designate Seagrass Management Areas and consult with local community members to
effectively protect, manage and restore seagrass provides an opportunity to investigate
This study reveals the conditions and strategies whereby solutions to MPA management
problems emerged as a result of iterative, collaborative processes for Rookery Bay
in Florida, Hā‘ena in Hawai‘i, and Catalina Island in California, where the state
and local community share management responsibilities. For each case, I describe the
development of MPAs and the collaborative agreement, identify the conditions that
gave rise to comanagement, and map its problem-solving functions in the context of
the social-ecological system. Drawing upon my analysis, I recommend strategies to
enhance MPA comanagement and propose new conditions or drivers essential for comanagement
of MPAs. Existing preconditions and the potential for a cooperative approach to seagrass
management at Fishers Island, New York are derived from community members’ perceptions,
values, hopes and concerns regarding local marine resources and the prospect of Seagrass