Marine Protected Areas - providing a future for fish and people

Posted on 27 June 2005

Marine protected areas (MPAs) offer a range of benefits for fisheries, people and the marine environment. They work by providing safe havens for depleted fish stocks to recover.
They also provide services to local communities who depend on the sea and its resources, increasing food security and reducing poverty. MPAs can also benefit local people by opening new opportunities to gain income. Countries with coral reefs attract millions of SCUBA divers every year, yielding significant economic benefits to the host country. Globally, almost USD 10 billion are spent on coral reef tourism annually.
By establishing MPAs, we can restore the balance in the use of our oceans, safeguarding valuable fish stocks and important habitats while providing long-term solutions for local communities.

The challenge

The world’s oceans are under more pressure than ever before. From France to Japan, from Senegal to Australia and Chile, fish stocks are overfished and important habitats are being lost or degraded at an unprecedented rate. Sixty per cent of coral reefs are expected to be lost by 2030 if present rates of decline continue. The increasing number of people living on the coasts and the rapid rise in consumer demand for fish threaten marine biodiversity across the oceans.

Inadequate fisheries management and widespread overuse of marine and coastal resources are also eroding the traditional basis of life for millions of people and even entire countries, depriving communities of their main source of vital protein and increasing poverty.
Yet, only a mere 0.5 per cent of the oceans are protected – compare this to 13 per cent of land area under protection. And the large majority of that is inadequately managed, with almost all marine protected areas open to tourism and recreation and 90 per cent open to fishing.

To turn the tide towards healthy oceans, the world’s leaders agreed, at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002, to create representative networks of MPAs by 2012.

It’s time to put these global agreements into action!

Download the brochure (PDF format) to find out more about the benefits of Marine Protected Areas
© WWF / Anthony B. RATH