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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 241374, 17 pages
Research Article

Marine Protected Areas, Multiple-Agency Management, and Monumental Surprise in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

1Department of Geography, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 445 Saunders Hall, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
2The Marine Biology Program, College of Natural Sciences, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2450 Campus Road, Dean Hall, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
3Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 8 June 2010; Accepted 3 September 2010

Academic Editor: Robert J. Toonen

Copyright © 2011 John N. Kittinger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Large, regional-scale marine protected areas (MPAs) and MPA networks face different challenges in governance systems than locally managed or community-based MPAs. An emerging theme in large-scale MPA management is the prevalence of governance structures that rely on institutional collaboration, presenting new challenges as agencies with differing mandates and cultures work together to implement ecosystem-based management. We analyzed qualitative interview data to investigate multi-level social interactions and institutional responses to the surprise establishment of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (monument) in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The governance arrangement for the monument represents a new model in US MPA management, requiring two federal agencies and the State of Hawai‘i to collaboratively manage the NWHI. We elucidate the principal barriers to institutional cotrusteeship, characterize institutional transformations that have occurred among the partner agencies in the transition to collaborative management, and evaluate the governance arrangement for the monument as a model for MPAs. The lessons learned from the NWHI governance arrangement are critical as large-scale MPAs requiring multiple-agency management become a prevalent feature on the global seascape.