A Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) is an area of nearshore waters and its associated coastal and marine resources that is largely or wholly managed at a local level by the coastal communities, land-owning groups, partner organisations, and/or collaborative government representatives who reside or are based in the immediate area.
In using an LMMA approach, some coastal communities are reviving traditional practices that have been used as part of their culture for many generations, others, are using more contemporary practices, and some use a combination of both.
An LMMA differs from what is commonly known as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in that LMMAs are characterised by local ownership, use and/or control, and in some areas follows the traditional tenure and management practices of the region, whereas MPAs in the formal sense are typically designated via a top-down approach with little if any local input. LMMAs describe a process of ensuring meaningful local discussions, local priority setting based on local challenges and aspirations for resource use, such as food security and livelihoods, and moves on to practical, locally-enforced local rules.
While LMMAs are often confused with MPAs, LMMAs are the entire fishing grounds, which communities typically set aside at least part of an LMMA as a no-take reserve (often times referred to as an MPA, but with a different meaning than the formal definition above). But they can also impose certain gear, species, or seasonal restrictions to allow habitat and resources to recover from fishing pressure, or to sustain or increase fish catch.
An LMMA can vary widely in purpose and design, but two aspects remain constant:
- A well-defined or designated area
- Substantial involvement of communities and/or local governments in decision-making and implementation.
Overfishing, destructive fishing (use of dynamite and poisons), sedimentation and pollution from development or industrial activities on land, physical damage from anchors and trampling by tourists and fishers, and coral extraction for building materials and souvenirs are common threats in the coastal and marine areas.
Establishment of an LMMA enables communities to discuss and make decisions on solutions to better manage their marine areas. This can include identifying which fishing methods and other activities can or cannot be carried out in their waters, and which management solution will increase the health of their marine resources.
LMMAs are usually ‘managed’ to improve the health of marine resource management, in an effect to alleviate food security and poverty.
But whatever the reason, it has be based on local priorities, and not outside funders or organisations that drive decision making.
There are many different terms used to describe community-based marine resource management.
Our approach is based on Community-Based Adaptive Management (CBAM) which focuses on “learning by doing” rather than “getting it right” at the outset. This means that communities can start with available information rather than having to rely on external expertise and go through a cycle of planning, implementation, monitoring and reflection.
An LMMA is an area of near-shore waters, land and coastal resources that is largely or wholly managed at a local level by coastal communities, land-owning groups, partner organisations, and/or collaborative government representatives who reside or are based in the immediate area.
A core value of LMMAs is that local communities make decisions and their needs come first when managing their marine resources.
Core principles of the LMMA Network, that local communities make decisions and their needs come first. Core principles include: