Indicators for management of coral reefs and their applications to marine protected areas
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Informed planning and decision-making in the management of natural resources requires an ability to integrate complex interactions in ecosystems and communicate these effectively to stakeholders. This involves coping with three fundamental dilemmas. The first comes from the irregular pulse of nature. The second is the recognition that there are no strictly objective criteria for judging the "well-being" of an ecosystem. The third is posed by the quest for indicators with some integrative properties that may be used to analyze an ecosystem and impart the information to the relevant resource users. This paper presents some examples of indicators used to: 1) assess the status of a coral reef and, in particular, the state of its fisheries resources; 2) identify reefs that are most threatened by human activities; and 3) evaluate the likelihood of success of management interventions. These indicators are not exhaustive, but illustrate the range of options available for the management of coral reef ecosystems.