Recent estimates suggest that up to 80% of the world's marine protected areas are not being managed effectively. Though properly managed marine protected areas can provide a range of benefits for fisheries, conservation and local economies, increased resources are urgently needed to make this happen.
"Today less than one percent of the world's seas is within marine protected areas," said Scott Burns, director of WWF's Endangered Seas Campaign. "A large proportion of these are protected in name only because they are under-resourced and poorly managed."
There is growing evidence that within two to five years, fully protected marine reserves - also called "no-fishing zones" - can turn the tide on overfishing and provide real ecological and economic benefits to local communities.
In fully protected marine reserves, fish live longer and grow larger. Increased production of offspring within reserves also helps to restock nearby fishing grounds, allowing fishers to benefit. However, these benefits can only happen if Governments and local communities work together to come up with new ways of ensuring well-managed reserves that can protect marine resources.
Fishers themselves are increasingly advocating that reserves be fully protected as a way of ensuring healthy fish stocks and their future livelihoods. In the Florida Keys, commercial fishers recently worked with recreational fishers, divers and conservationists to jointly design a new marine reserve that promotes sustainable fisheries management.
"I have come to see that marine reserves are a valuable tool that can help address overfishing, and conserve critical habitat," said Tony Iarocci, a commercial fisherman who has been operating in the Florida Keys since the 1970s.
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Notes to Editors:
� WWF's Endangered Seas Campaign is supporting work on marine reserves in some of the world's most biologically diverse areas, such as in the MesoAmerican Reef off Belize, the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve in Ecuador, the Banc d'Arguin National Park in Mauritania and Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in the Philippines.
� For more examples and statistics on marine reserves, see the WWF mini-website on marine protected areas at www.panda.org