Improving MPA management: Financial security

WWF is one of many organizations that provides financial support to a number of MPAs around the world, particularly in developing countries where governments have less ability to fund conservation.

We are also promoting long-term, sustainable financing mechanisms for MPAs.

Greater investment needed

At present, most Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - which together cover just 1.2% of the seas - suffer from chronic financial problems. A network covering 20-30% of the oceans would require an increased investment in marine conservation by around two orders of magnitude compared to today.

However few countries, even among the richest, have managed to define and establish ways to provide long-term sustainable, financing for a single MPA, let alone a network.

Our work for sustainable MPA financing includes:
  • Promoting new financing mechanisms
  • Promoting tourism revenues
  • Looking at MPA costs and benefits

What's the problem?

Without adequate funds, MPA managers cannot enforce boundaries and closed areas, monitor marine biodiversity, or adjust to new situations.

And without effective management, many MPAs are little more than paper parks.

Putting the costs into perspective

According to one study, the annual cost for an MPA network covering 30% of the world's seas would be US$12-14 billion.

This is undoubtedly a lot of money.

But governments are already paying US$15-30 billion each year as fishing subsidies - subsidies that have played a large role in the global problem of overfishing, one of the largest threats to our oceans.

In contrast, protecting the marine environment through a global network of well-managed MPAs would:

• help safeguard the global fishing industry, whose annual catch is worth US$70-80 billion

• provide around 1 million jobs in MPA protection alone - more jobs than are maintained by all fishing subsidies worldwide

• help safeguard coral reefs, whose goods and revenues contribute US$30 billion each year to the global economy

• help safeguard the annual US$7 trillion worth of largely unseen services that marine ecosystems provide (such as  coral reefs providing shoreline protection, and mangroves providing sewage cleansing)

A model of careful management funded by tourism

Established in 1979 on the island of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire Marine Park is a model of careful management based on an effective partnership between the island's diving industry and park managers. 

Dive operators collect a fee on behalf of the park from visitors wishing to dive within the park's waters. The collected money is used to cover park management costs as well as pay staff actively involved in visitor communication and education. 

Dive operators also help inform divers and other visitors on the park’s code of conduct, which includes rules for anchoring, mooring, fishing, diving, snorkeling, contact (or lack thereof) with marine life, and garbage disposal. The operators have to participate in an annual refresher course.

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