Examining stakeholder involvement in the context of top-down marine protected area governance: the case of the Sept-Îles National Nature Reserve (Brittany, France)

Constance Schere, Kate Schreckenberg, Terry Dawson, Carole Duval, Frédérique Alban, Éric Le Gentil, Pascal Provost

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are important yet complex conservation tools that can be difficult to govern and manage. In France, the State manages protected areas with national status, but consults communities and users when making decisions. How can the governance of an MPA be improved while respecting the framework imposed on it by State regulations? This study focuses on the Sept-Îles National Nature Reserve (Réserve naturelle nationale, or RNN), located in northern Brittany (France) and renowned for its natural heritage, particularly for its seabird conservation efforts. Its management methods are provided for by the French Environmental Code, and are structured around an Advisory Committee, a Scientific Council, and a designated manager. Any change in the functioning of this committee must comply with the provisions of French law. Following a decree to extend the perimeter of the RNN, there was the opportunity to reassess the functioning of the current governance structure the RNN Sept-Îles and to define its strengths and weaknesses so that these may be addressed as the RNN grows. Various stakeholders – for the most part members of the Advisory Committee – were engaged through semi-structured interviews, guided by the principles of good governance. This study found that the current structure of the Advisory Committee is not aligned with the French Environmental Code and proposes new working groups that could offer stakeholders more opportunities for participation. There were issues of representation, communication, and power struggles within the Advisory Committee and highlights a distinct lack of young people within the governance structure of the RNN, which poses questions about its future. This is one of the first studies in France to propose an alternative governance structure involving more RNN stakeholders that can fit into the current framework imposed by State regulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103196
JournalRegional Studies in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2023


  • marine protected areas
  • marine conservation
  • MPA governance
  • conservation management
  • nature reserve
  • stakeholder engagement
  • marine reserve


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