Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in Kenya: a detailed history of their development and establishment

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Coastal communities in Kenya have adopted the use of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) to conserve fisheries and marine resources and as a way of securing alternative livelihood activities. However, these LMMAs have been established in a somewhat ad hoc manner due to a lack of guidelines for their development and implementation. In this review we sought to determine if there are generic approaches and methods that LMMAs in Kenya have adopted that can be used for developing national guidelines. We also examined challenges and lessons learnt from the various LMMAs on the Kenyan coast. This review seeks to make recommendations for the establishment of LMMAs based on approaches that appear to have been successful in the LMMAs in Kenya. LMMAs in Kenya go through five phases to reach a fully established and operating LMMA. These phases are: i) Conceptualisation, ii) Inception, iii) Implementation, iv) Monitoring and management; and v) Ongoing adaptive management. The final phase is when a LMMA exists sustainably in a continuous learning process. Each stage is defined by the activities that are taking place which determine how far an LMMA has reached in its development. This assessment revealed that only four LMMAs (Wasini, Kanamai-Mradi, Kuruwitu and Kibuyuni) had reached the fifth phase. Interestingly, the Kenyan model differs from the widely know Pacific model of only four phases. The difference is due to an initial Conceptualisation phase in Kenya. Our results illustrated the need for full acceptance of the LMMA concept by stakeholders before progressing to the second Inception phase. When this step was missed many LMMAs stalled during the Inception or Implementation phase. Across all LMMAs there was a distinct lack of strategies for education and awareness, marketing, financing and monitoring. Management structures were also generally fairly weak. The findings also revealed confusion over the legal basis of LMMAs. Legislative guidelines are a vital component of the national guidelines on LMMAs currently under development in Kenya. Most LMMAs tackled this issue late in the establishment process. The five phases in the development and establishment of LMMAs described here provide a useful guide for communities and other stakeholders to follow when developing LMMAs, or for those that are established and need guidance on their operations.

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