Marine protected areas (MPAs) are being increasingly advocated or conceived as fisheries management instruments. The numerous advantages of MPAs, particularly in conjunction with other management tools, have been widely recognized. To improve the role of MPAs in fisheries management it was recommended that FAO develop technical guidelines on the design, implementation and review of MPAs. The Expert Workshop was the initial activity in a project that will provide information, assistance and guidance on the role of marine protected areas in fisheries management. Experts from a wide variety of disciplines - biological and ecological, social and economic, governance, and legal fields - were convened to review and characterize MPAs as a fisheries management tool.