ABSTRACT Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are globally underfunded. We present a five-step framework that can help practitioners prioritize actions that may improve financial sustainability, which was applied to six MPAs in Colombia, Bonaire, and Belize. Limited funds were found to directly undermine effectiveness towards conservation goals for five sites, with these impacts particularly significant for four. Annual budgets required increases from 6 % to 141 % to meet financial needs. Two sites had significant underlying weaknesses in their financial strategies that could lead to direct impacts if not addressed, with an additional three sites having more minor, but still observable, weaknesses in this manner. Staff salaries were the largest expense for all MPAs examined and also most frequently in need of additional funds. Opportunities to potentially eliminate these funding gaps were identified for all six MPAs through reallocating existing resources (n =2), improving in-place mechanisms (n = 6), or implementing one or more alternative mechanisms (n =6). Among several findings, some MPAs had the potential to increase tourism-based income by several million dollars per year, which would well exceed local financial requirements and could have substantial financial benefits on a network-wide scale. Some MPAs, including those with lower budgets, effectively leveraged partnerships and inter-institutional coordination to expand management capacity. Among alternative mechanisms that could be implemented, opportunities to leverage private-sector investments were especially common. Other MPAs around the world could likewise improve financial sustainability through analysis, evaluation, and execution of the full suite of options described herein.
Invasive lionfish are assumed to significantly affect Caribbean reef fish communities. However, evidence of lionfish effects on native reef fishes is based on uncontrolled observational studies or small-scale, unrepresentative experiments, with findings ranging from no effect to large effects on prey density and richness. Moreover, whether lionfish affect populations and communities of native reef fishes at larger, management- relevant scales is unknown. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of lionfish on coral reef prey fish communities in a natural complex reef system. We quantified lionfish and the density, richness, and composition of native prey fishes (0–10 cm total length) at sixteen reefs along ∼250 km of the Belize Barrier Reef from 2009 to 2013. Lionfish invaded our study sites during this four-year longitudinal study, thus our sampling included fish community structure before and after our sites were invaded, i.e., we employed a modified BACI design. We found no evidence that lionfish measurably affected the density, richness, or composition of prey fishes. It is possible that higher lionfish densities are necessary to detect an effect of lionfish on prey populations at this relatively large spatial scale. Alternatively, negative effects of lionfish on prey could be small, essentially undetectable, and ecologically insignificant at our study sites. Other factors that influence the dynamics of reef fish populations including reef complexity, resource availability, recruitment, predation, and fishing could swamp any effects of lionfish on prey populations.