Puget Sound Marine Protected Areas

Evaluating Puget Sound Marine Protected Areas to Increase Social Ecological Resilience

This research was the first empirical, multi-method comparative study of a marine protected area (MPA) system in the United States, addressing the growing need for including social dimensions in MPA management strategies.

Principal Investigator

Patrick Christie, University of Washington, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

Co-Principal Investigators

David Fluharty, University of Washington, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

Richard Pollnac, University of Rhode Island

Brad Warren, Global Ocean Health


Puget Sound’s 24 marine protected areas (MPAs) are considered powerful potential tools for state efforts to restore rockfish and counter ocean acidification’s effects. But little is known about how well they are managed or how effective they are as conservation measures. This project proposed to fill these knowledge gaps through comparative, multi-method social science research across MPA sites in Puget Sound, in collaboration with state agencies, tribal entities, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. Findings yielded publicly accessible outreach materials and peer-reviewed publications. The project also engaged regional actors in a scenario planning process to evaluate social capacity to design and adaptively manage MPAs in Hood Canal.