An assumption underlying the growing support for marine protected areas (MPAs) is that they meet conservation goals and provide economic benefits to fisheries and ecotourism. However, support for MPAs will be at risk if managers cannot assess whether various MPA objectives are being fulfilled. Current approaches to MPA management emphasize the need to evaluate performance criteria; however, there is little consensus on criteria and their evaluation. We propose a marine protected area evaluation model (MPAEM), based on and modified from a multidisciplinary approach used to assess the sustainability of fisheries, called rapid appraisal of fisheries (Rapfish). The application of the MPAEM was explored in a pilot study of 20 MPAs located in different regions of the world. Results indicate that the MPAEM can be used to evaluate MPA management effectiveness. However, the manner in which the evaluation attributes are scored and ways of engaging user groups should be explored before MPAEM can become part of the day-to-day management of MPAs.