Posted on 14 June 2004
Redirecting government spending from harmful fishing subsidies to marine reserves would provide enormous ecological, social, and economic benefits worldwide.
Gland, Switzerland - A new study by WWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds published today in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that establishing global networks of marine protected areas covering 30 per cent of the world's oceans would cost US$12–14 billion annually.
This is less than the US$15–30 billion already spent each year on economically and environmentally damaging subsidies to commercial fisheries, points out WWF.
The report also evaluates that such networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) would help safeguard — and over time increase — a global fish catch worth up to US$80 billion per year, and would ensure the sustained delivery of marine ecosystem services worth an estimated US$7,000 billion each year.
The report indicates that these MPA networks would generate between 830,000 and 1.1 million full-time jobs.
These first concrete indications on the global cost of establishing MPA networks follow commitments made by governments at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 to create national networks of marine parks by 2012.
WWF stresses that currently only 0.5 per cent of the sea is under protection, compared to 12 per cent of land area.
According to the global conservation organization, subsidies to the fishing industry contribute to overfishing and to the overcapacity of the world’s already bloated fishing fleets.
Nearly 75 per cent of fisheries are categorized as overfished or fished to the limit, and large fish stocks have fallen to 10 per cent or less of their numbers at the onset of commercial fishing.
Marine habitat loss now equals or exceeds that of the rainforests, with 60 per cent of coral reefs expected to be lost by 2030 if present rates of decline continue.
"Oceans today are in their worst state in the history of mankind," said Andrew Balmford, lead author of the study. "Meeting the global commitment to marine protection will require international effort on an unprecedented scale, involving governments, donor agencies, the fishing industry, and the conservation community."
In February at the Seventh Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, governments reconfirmed the WSSD commitment and set 2005 as a target date for determining how these networks will be financed and sustainably managed.
"The costs of protecting marine life and sustaining fisheries are modest compared with what the world spends on luxury goods and services," said Dr Simon Cripps, Director of WWF's global Marine Programme. "For example, Europeans and Americans together spend an estimated US$31 billion a year on ice cream, while around US$18 billion is spent worldwide on make-up. Redirecting government spending from harmful fishing subsidies to marine reserves would provide enormous ecological, social and economic benefits worldwide." For further information:
WWF global Marine Programme
Tel: +41 22 3649028
Olivier van Bogaert
WWF International Press Office
Tel: +41 22 364 9554