Agents of Change

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a widely-used conservation management tool around the world. The UK governments are in the process of implementing a network of MPAs in UK seas to protect important habitats and species,​by effectively managing impactful human activities.

As the number of MPAs in the UK network increases, the existence, purpose and potential of these sites is not well understood among sea user communities or wider society. Where MPAs are part of the public conversation, views can also be highly polarised between interest groups and research from around the world suggests that MPAs are more likely to be effective when local people support them.

Led by the Marine Conservation Society, with New Economics Foundation and Fauna and Flora International – this experiment aims to explore what happens if we empower ‘Agents of Change’.

The project aims to better understand local views and conversations about MPAs and use this understanding to support local people in re-framing local conversations in a way that will increase community support for their local MPA, by improving local sense of connection and ownership with MPAs, and work to ensure appropriate management which is inclusive and accepted.

The Agents of Change pilot brings together a group of national eNGO representatives, sea-users and wider community members from Sussex and North Norfolk with an interest in local inshore MCZs, working in three pilot areas;  Beachy Head East (tranche 3, newly designated 2019), Kingmere (a tranche 1 designated site with fisheries management in place) and Cromer Shoals Chalk Beds (a tranche 2 designated site with no fisheries management yet in place). These sites were chosen to build on existing work Marine Conservation Society Community Voice Method work and test differing approaches with a variety of communities and MPAs at different stages.