Perceptions of threats facing Cabo de Palos - Islas Hormigas MPA and potential solutions.
Many marine protected areas (MPAs) face a multitude of threats to the ecosystems that they have been established to conserve. This study is based on 111 interviews conducted in 2013-2014 designed to discover the perceptions of stakeholders about the threats, the causes of the threats, and their responses to the threats, to a well-established MPA - Cabo de Palos - Islas Hormigas (CPH-MPA). This MPA was created to safeguard fisheries and the associated artisanal fishers, but over time it has become a tourism "hotspot." Resilience theory, which incorporates ecological resilience, social resilience, and individual resilience, helps us to analyze stakeholders' responses to threats by categorizing them into passive, adaptive, and transformative responses. We found respondents identified four main threats - over-fishing, excessive scuba diving, pollution, and invasive species; attributed the threats to three main causes - ineffective management, poor environmental stewardship, and climate change; and expressed three kinds of responses - do nothing, adapt, or transform - with a preference for adaptation and (especially) transformation. The lesson of this study is that it shows how, unless drastic action is taken to curb recreational diving activities, the CPH-MPA is in danger of changing from a fishing reserve to a largely unregulated leisure diving venue, which is unlikely to fulfill the requirements of resilience; ecological, social, or individual.