Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely used tools to conserve marine ecosystems and their services. They are complex socio-ecological systems where human activities and nature interact. Croatia has 409 protected areas, of which 19 are coastal-marine. The aim of this paper is to analyze the management model of MPAs in Croatia and to identify their strengths and weaknesses. For this purpose, three MPAs have been chosen: Brijuni National Park, Telašćica Nature Park, and Pakleni Islands Significant Landscape. The methodology used assesses 26 specific indicators to analyze the status of 4 key factors: management body, planning subprocess, public participation, and implementation subprocess. The results of this evaluation are 5 possible scenarios: proactive (1), learning (2), interactive (3), centralized (4), and formal (5) management. The results show that Brijuni presents a proactive scenario (1), Telašćica an interactive scenario (3), and Pakleni Islands a centralized scenario (4). A series of measures are presented, which can improve the score. In general, MPA management in Croatia tends towards a proactive model, where the management body is its greatest strength. There is a shift from a top-down to a bottom-up approach, which implies a greater involvement of the population in decision-making. However, public participation is not yet fully consolidated.
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