Communities and biodiversity big winners in marine protected areas
This was the message delivered during a high level dialogue of government representatives, policy makers and conservationists at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad yesterday.
“It is imperative that governments work hard to change the all too common misconception that marine protected areas only benefit biodiversity and have few benefits for people,” said Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive of Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Australia.
“Governments must be made to understand that marine conservation makes an important contribution to their sustainable development agenda.”
The dialogue, hosted by WWF, showcased real-world examples from across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans to demonstrate the range of social and economic benefits marine protected areas can provide to coastal communities from enhancing food security to protecting jobs and livelihoods.
“All stakeholders need to be engaged in long-term solutions for protecting the integrity of our unique marine environment and the enormous economic potential our oceans can provide when used in a sustainable manner,” Mr Gschwind added.
“For instance, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contributes in excess of $5 billion to the national economy annually.”
About 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean globally and well designed and managed marine protected areas can ensure these jobs last well into the future.
“When recognized and understood by communities, governments and businesses, the enormous financial benefits of these important areas can provide a powerful catalyst for scaling up marine conservation,” said Alasdair Harris, Research Director of Blue Ventures.
As Ron Vave from the Institute of Applied Science, University of the South Pacific, pointed out, there are more than 400 marine areas, totaling more than 13,000 Km2, managed by the communities themselves in the South Pacific. Seeing the benefits these areas can provide to fisheries, local people not only get actively engaged in the management of coastal areas but carry the knowledge and practices beyond their communities.
WWF’s Global Marine Programme, through its MPA Action Agenda, works on marine protected areas worldwide as a way to contribute to the global agenda on ocean protection. This initiative is specifically designed to provide global support and accelerate regional and national marine protected areasestablishment efforts.