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Abstract: The National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades (NMPANS) in Greece is one of the few areas worldwide dedicated to the protection of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). The impacts of the establishment of this protected area on the local monk seal population have been thoroughly documented for the last 20 y; in contrast, little is known of the socioeconomic impacts from the establishment of the park on the residents of the island of Alonissos. The aim of this study was to record, using a methodological approach based on Social Impact Assessment, the attitudes of residents and visitors of Alonissos and to assess the social and economic impacts generated by the establishment and management of the NMPANS. The majority of the residents of Alonissos acknowledged the importance of the marine park in promoting the public image of the island, a fact they believed had not yet resulted in major improvements to their livelihood. They believed that the establishment of the park had led to considerable economic losses to the local fishing industry and expressed concerns on the effects of the park on the local human social structure and traditions. Positive effects were detected primarily from the tourism sector. Visitors to Alonissos valued the area for its natural beauty but were disappointed by the lack of coordinated effort to promote these natural resources. Based on the findings of this study, we conclude that the NMPANS has been generally successful in meeting its biodiversity goals but considerably less effective in attaining basic measures of socioeconomic success. If the population’s socioeconomic expectations from the establishment of the park are to be fulfilled, the newly established management body of the park must improve communication and establish working collaborations with the local population of Alonissos.
Key Words: conservation, Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, economic impacts, local people, National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades, Greece, management
Document Type: Research article
Page Numbers: 305-318