Marine Protected Areas

Hi everyone, one of my modules I’m taking this term is on marine conservation. One of the main ways that the world protects its oceans is marine protected areas. This is a map of all the MPAs in the world.

officialmpamap

This actually covers a mere 3% of the worlds oceans. An MPA can be an area thats completely no take or can have some regulated fishing. Most importantly they are areas that have site specific importance for example the great barrier reef is an MPA. The demand to protect the worlds oceans has been impressed upon the nations of the world. In the UK there has been an initiative to increase the area of no take MPAs in UK waters by 3% by 2020. I’d love to say that we should just make the entire ocean protected in one way or another but as always with conservation it’s just not that simple.

There is some debate on how well MPAs work. After all fish swim and we can’t fence areas of the ocean like we do with terrestrial protected areas. Although some studies have shown that fish actually stick to their own territory and don’t swim as far as you might think. But MPA’s do alot more than protecting the fish. They protect corals and plants that don’t swim around and they can also protect resources under the sea bed such as oil.

MPA’s also have a whole host of people issues around them. Fishing is an essential income to many people and also countries as a whole. No-take MPA’s revolve around their being 0 fishing in these zones which can cause some backlash amongst fishermen (understandably). The way this is often dealt with is for fisherman to use the area for other purposes like ecotourism but this is can’t always work. Given that you cant fence these areas illegal fishing often goes ahead.

In my opinion MPA’s are essential. The ocean is an invaluable resource that goes forgotten about. For them to work there is a need for strong state law but also a need for local communities to see the importance of the ocean.

The world of MPAs is intensely complicated and I’m working on an essay right now balancing an argument of whether no take MPA’s are worth their money. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this, see you tomorrow!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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