5.8 Marine Protected Areas
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a space in the ocean where human activities are more strictly regulated than the surrounding waters (similar to parks we have on land). The most broadly formal definition of MPA is the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)one: “A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”.
The MPAs are given special protection for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources by local, state, territorial, regional, or national authorities and they can differ substantially among and between nations. This variation includes different limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing or disrupting marine life (Video1_Ses5.8_MMMPA-Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement no.: 290056).
Any MPA can be characterised by the strength of the protection it provides, which is directly related to the regulation applied. Marine reserves, where the extraction of any resources is prohibited (no-take), is indeed not the only type of MPA. MPAs can include marine reserves, as well as other zones in which all extractive activities (mining, dredging, collecting..) are prohibited but in which partial protection is afforded (catch limits, seasonal closures, etc.) and human access is allowed.
MPAs have become the flagships of marine conservation programmes in many parts of the world. For the public and politicians, they are often the most tangible part of a marine conservation programme; while for the manager, they are an opportunity to concentrate effort and resources on protecting marine wildlife and habitats.
MPAs can be chosen and preserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection (Video2_Ses5.8_MMMPA-Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement no.: 290056).
There are potential conservation benefits of MPAs, in particular they fill some of the following roles:
– sustain fishery;
– conserve marine ecosystem and biodiversity;
– protect attractive habitats and species;
– contribute to the scientific knowledge of marine species;
– preserve genetic diversity;
– preserve cultural diversity;
– provide educational and recreational opportunities.
Marine reserves and MPAs have succeeded in a variety of ways. The marine reserves, regardless of their size, increase the density, biomass, individual size, and biodiversity in all functional groups. The mean size of the organisms and the diversity of the communities are 20%-30% higher within protect areas than unprotected areas. The density and the biomass are almost double and triple respectively in the protected areas (Halpern Benjamin 2003). They can prevent further degradation of marine habitats and communities while enhancing resources both inside and outside their boundaries; they represent a refuge for threatened species, prevent habitat damage and allow the development of natural biological communities. Moreover they have involved the public in marine conservation and raised public awareness of marine issues of concern; they have been of economic benefit to the locality; and they have provided useful conditions for marine research (Video3_Ses5.8_MMMPA-Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement no.: 290056).Video 3 5,8 The book of marine protected areas. By MMMPA-Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas, has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement no.: 290056
The reserves, where human activity is spatially controlled or banned, play a useful role in conservation. However marine reserves protect a very small proportion of the marine environment and primarily regulate human activities by segregating them spatially. No reserve alone can address problems such as pollution, climate change, or overfishing or can be fully effective at protecting marine life if there are human activities and impacts in the vicinity. Marine reserves are most effective when used in conjunction with other management measures.
Halpern Benjamin S (2003) The impact of marine reserves: do reserves work and does reserve size matter? Ecol Appl 13:117-137
5.8.1 The difference between a reserve and a Marine Protected Area.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are protected areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes. These marine areas can come in many forms ranging from wildlife refuges to research facilities. MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Such marine resources are protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differ substantially among and between nations. This variation includes different limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing or disrupting marine life. In some situations (such as with the Phoenix Islands Protected Area), MPAs also provide revenue for countries, potentially equal to the income that they would have if they were to give companies permission to fish.
A marine reserve is a type of marine protected area that has legal protection against fishing or development. Since 2007 less than 1% of the world’s oceans have been declared marine reserves. Benefits include increases in the diversity, density, biomass, body size and reproductive potential of fishery and other species within their boundaries.
In conclusion, I would say that the difference between those two is the fact that in MPAs human activity in areas of seas etc. is restricted, and in reserves you cannot do anything. For the protection of nature and humankind it is good that there are MPAs in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with 990,000 square kilometres and more than 150 marine reserves in at least 61 countries, according to scientists all around the world.
Reference literature list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_protected_area , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_reserve.
5.8.2 Benefits of a Marine Protected Area for the environment.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are regions of ocean designated to conserving the diversity of sea life and to maintain a steady level of resources (fish, clams, etc.). No-take marine protected areas are strictly protected and monitored and are often a result of overfishing or destruction of underwater ecosystems. There are also different types of marine protected areas based on different underwater surfaces and their placement ranging from reefs and seagrass beds all the way to shipwreck sites and coastal underwater areas.
MPAs can reverse the effects of overfishing and can provide a safe environment for the different species to grow undisturbed. They can also help with reducing the impact of pollution caused by littering and disposing of rubbish in the ocean. The cleanliness of MPAs provides the potential for scientists to conduct research and explore possibilities of protecting sea life in open oceans. Protection of significant ecosystems helps to conserve the diversity but also helps tourism to thrive in the surrounding areas (if an area is tremendously connected to the ocean for example). The effect of MPAs on the economy is undeniable. Because of the lesser influence of temperature shifts and humans, endangered species and other species not acclimated to often harsh conditions can be grown, which can be used to produce uncommon kinds of sea life forms that can further be exchanged for more profit.
Even though they might only be used for the benefit of people they still have a purpose outside of production of resources and the impact they have on the global economy. Protection of bio-diversity is also one of the most important reasons to encourage people to organize more marine protected areas.
5.8.3 The Marine Protected Areas of your country.
There is no such thing as an universal definition of a Marine protected area (MPA). The conservation focus, level of protection, permanence of protection, constancy of protection and ecological scale of protection can all determine if an area will be classified as marine protected or not, but they all have something in common; they are all established for the conservation of their natural or cultural resources. That is achieved by restricting some aspects of human behavior such as catching fish and collecting shells, but the restrictions vary widely from MPA to MPA.
Croatia uses the Nature Protection Act for classifying protected areas, as there is no legal instrument in Croatian law for doing so. There are 432 protected areas in Croatia, of which 10 are recognized Marine Protected Areas.
Brijuni is a National Park located in Croatia’s northern coastline. It is classified as a Marine protected area with its 14 islands and islets and the surface area of 27km2. It is worth pointing out that some species of plants that were found on the islands are listed in a group of endangered species in Istria, which are well represented on the islands and are normally developing there.
Kornati is also a National park on Croatia’s coastline classified as an MPA. The park consists of 89 islands and reefs that occupy total of 166km2 marine surface area. The area of the Kornati National Park can be characterized as an area rich in extremely important submarine communities which, due to long-term protection, are at a high level of conservation.
5.8.4 The main reasons to institute a Marine Protected Area.
Marine Protected Areas are areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes. These marine areas can come in many forms ranging from wildlife refuges to research facilities. Marine Protected Areas restrict human activity for conservation and to protect natural and cultural resources. Such marine resources are protected by authorities.
There is a lot of reasons to institute a Marine protected Area, among others is protecting endangered species. One of the best-known examples are Mediterranean monk seal, long-snouted seahorse and loggerhead sea turtle. In Europe 7.5 % of 1220 species of marine fishes is threatened with extinction due to mainly overfishing, coastal development, energy production and mining, and pollution. Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish from a body of water at a rate that the species cannot replenish in time, resulting in those species either becoming depleted or very underpopulated in that given area. In 2013, EU decision-makers agreed on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy that requires an end to overfishing by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks. Coastal development is a big problem for marine areas too. Currently, more than 200 million European citizens live near coastlines, stretching from the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic to the Mediterranean and many habitats of marine wildlife are destroyed because of that.The other main reason to create Marine Protected Areas is pollution. There is more than 150 million tones of plastic in oceans, and 5-10 tons enter oceans every year. The European Union is considering banning single-use plastic items for which alternatives in other materials are already available.
Unfortunately, many marine areas are threatened today and need special protection. But we need to take care of all marine areas, not just the ones that are well known due to their natural beauty.
5.8.5 How a Marine Protected Area can conserve marine biodiversity?
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are protected areas with the goal of conserving and most commonly also researching the marine wildlife or cultural resource it contains. They restrict human activity on the protected area in a variety of ways, from banning ship transit to banning direct human interaction with the wildlife or cultural resource.
MPAs are controlled by local, regional, national or international authorities and the restrictions vary between countries and MPAs. In some cases the authorities support some restrictions, e.g. fishing restrictions, by providing revenue equal to the profit that would have been earned from doing the restricted action, in this case fishing, in the MPA.
There are seven categories of restrictions on the MPAs, from sustainable use of its natural resources to maximum security, where all resource removals are strictly prohibited (a.k.a. “no take” MPAs). Regarding its goal of conserving marine biodiversity, the general concept is to overpopulate the MPA, which results in fish expanding into the surrounding unprotected areas and increasing its population. This helps the biodiversity of those surrounding areas while also keeping a healthy population in the MPA. Leading organizations have created a criteria for setting up and maintaining an MPA, including: ensuring the success of the species' expansion, protection for all of the local environment's biological processes and maintaining population links with other MPAs. With the completion of these criteria the wildlife can be well preserved and can spread very quickly into other areas, increasing the biodiversity in those areas.
By keeping endangered species in MPAs, the once lost biodiversity caused by the decrease of the species' numbers can be restored. In 2010 research found that fish larvae can drift to distant locations through sea currents. This increases the importance of MPAs and shows how effective they can be at preserving wildlife and the biodiversity of that wildilfe.
5.8.6 How a Marine Protected Area can sustain fishery?
How a Marine Protected Area can sustain fishery?
A marine protected area (MPA) is an area of sea especially
dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biodiversity,
and of natural cultural resources, and managed through legal or
other effective means. MPAs include: marine parks, nature
reserves and locally managed marine areas that protect reefs,
seagrass beds, shipwrecks, archaeological sites, tidal lagoons,
mudflats, saltmarshes, rock platforms, underwater areas on the
coast and the seabed in deep water, as well as open water.
Marine protected areas help protect important habitats and
representative samples of marine life and can assist in restoring
the productivity of the oceans and avoid further degradation.
They are also sites for scientific study and can generate income
through tourism and sustainable fishing. Fishery management
is in real need of habitat protection and recovery. Therefore,
for fisheries, MPAs protect specific life stages of fish, for
example, fish nursery grounds where fish grow and develop.
They also improve socio-economic outcomes for local
communities, and last but not least, they support fishery
stability. With marine protected areas fishers now spend less
time fishing but catch more than before, which helps fishery
In my opinion, I would say that marine protected areas make
a great, and more importantly a natural habitat for fish and
overall water organisms. That way everything comes together,
so not only do they protect marine life but they also help
5.8.7 How a Marine Protected Area can provide educational and recreational opportunities?
A Marine Protected Area is an area of sea dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and habitats. It provides opportunities for people to study plants and animals that are undisturbed by fishing and other impacts.
Some benefits of the Marine Protected Areas are maintaining biodiversity, providing refuges for endangered and commercial species, protecting critical habitats from damage by destructive fishing practices and other human activities, providing areas where fish are able to reproduce, spawn and grow to their adult size, helping to maintain local cultures, economy and livelihoods. While searching for information for this project, I came across an eco-friendly and educational project called EMMA (Educational Managed Marine Area) started in 2012 in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, which fits quite well in this topic. Their goal is to help young people learn, understand and protect the marine environment. It is based on three pillars which are understanding, sharing and managing the sea. Various schools participate in the project. Each of them needs to implement a programme of actions to prepare correct management of the area such as conducting an ecological survey in the chosen area with children alongside scientific teams, establishing a children`s sea council to discuss the actions to be implemented, investing in educational activities, developing relationships with elected officials.
Including children in different eco-friendly projects makes a huge difference in society. It teaches them how to interact with nature. Young children are the future. If we don`t teach them the right things, Earth will turn into a junkyard and loads of animals will die and there won't be any biodiversity left. Younger generations won't be able to see the true beauty of our planet. We, who are in school now, need to learn too and start making a change, because we are the ones who are going to transfer knowledge to future generations and hopefully make a difference.
5.8.8 Find a successful example of well-managed Marine Protected Area and explain why.
Marine protected areas, simply known as MPA, are protected areas of seas, oceans, lakes and estuaries. They restrict human activites to protect natural resources. These areas are essential for the well-being of the ocean and the life in it.
What is a well managed MPA then? Well, it has to combine all those elements, it has to be in a place where it's necessary, and be observed and taken care of regularly by professionals. A good example of such an area is the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. This area is in a lot of danger. The main cause is the onshore industry which pollutes the river and increases the nitrogen level in the water. Increased nitrogen led to a new problem: the spawning of crown-of-thorns starfish. Its primary food source is coral. The ships now have to patrol the area and eradicate them one by one. But a bigger problem is the industry which UNESCO has found hard to deal with because Queensland has a large deposit of coal. Then came project Catalyst, which united big companies, the Australian government, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and farmer Gerry Deguara to develop new farming methods to protect the reef. Then the tourism operators got involved to keep the reef safe and clean for tourists. We can now see why this is a well-managed MPA. In this case we also see that even a local farmer can make a big change. Here in Croatia there are 293 MPAs. That might seem a lot, but it's just a number. We care more about the money that tourism brings to these areas than their well-being. There have been a few organisations, e.g. Sunce, which has tried to raise awareness of MPA but hasn't quite succeeded. The biggest MPAs are in Lastovo, Brijuni and Kornati.
In conclusion, from these two polar opposite countries we can learn that it just takes some good will and backing from the government to increase the number of MPAs and thus the well-being of the sea and the planet.
5.8.9 Would you establish a Marine Protected Area where there isgreat or little anthropogenic impact? Why?
Marine Protected Areas are part of oceans, seas, lakes where specific antropogenic (human) activities are partly or completely banned for the wealth of willdlife and nature. The importance of these zones is great and ever growing in the modern world. Acidification of oceans, rising of CO2 levels, global warming, extinction of wildlife are all inevitable consequences of faulty human behaviour. These consequences are direct or indirect results of anthropogenic impact. The main topic of this article is whether to establish a marine protected area in places of great or little anthropogenic impact.
I would establish Marine Protected Areas in places where there is great anthropogenic impact. Anthropogenic impact is the biggest cause of negative processes in oceans and the priority for protection is definitely bigger where there is great impact of humans. Some of the benefits of Marine Protected Areas are: mantaining biodiversity, protection of habitats, reduction of species loss, increased fish catches and many more. Such elements are crucial for the benefit of both humans and wildlife. Plastics in oceans and seas are the most concerning recent problem. Because people eat fish from oceans it is very important for both humans and fish not to ingest plastics, which we know is harmful. Four examples of very succesful Marine Protected Areas are in: Australia (the Great Barrier Reef), The Philippines, Mozambique and Turkey. Perhaps we should look up to those countries for their proactiveness in marine wildlife protection because quite frankly it truly is the right thing to do.
The most concerning fact is that less than 4% of the world's oceans are Marine Protected Areas. It truly calls for action and the best way to do that is through people being proactive. We can do so much to help wildlife and ourselves starting from simple home-based actions out into the wider community.