Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a key conservation tool to meet the objectives of ocean protection policies. Many MPAs fail to be effective because of too weak levels of protection, and some governments aim to increase the coverage of fully and highly protected areas within their waters. However, governments face numerous barriers in translating their commitments into effective conservation measures. Here, we propose a three-step framework to identify the barriers faced when designating and implementing specific levels of protection and to design an action plan to lever these barriers. Using France as a case study, we found that differing stakeholders' perceptions and impaired interaction between stakeholders and decision makers hamper the transition from ambitions to action. We suggest a two-tiered action plan to address these barriers, acting at both deep and shallow leverage points. Enhancing participation and holding decision makers accountable for their commitments while mobilizing financial capital and simplifying governance will facilitate the implementation of effective conservation measures with adequate levels of protection.
One Earth, Volume 5, 16 September 2022,