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Fully Protected Marine Reserves a guide

The Precis of Fully-protected marine reserves: a guide by Callum Roberts and Julie Hawkins is a fantastic marine reserve summary document - well worth a read as it covers all the key points, without having to read miles of information grin

An extract below : Key lessons for the creation of effective marine reserves


1. Marine reserves should be designed to achieve specific objectives, which should evolve according to changing circumstances if necessary.Objectives are important. They provide critical input to the selection
and design of reserves. However, it is important not to be a slave to objectives stated at the outset. Reserves produce many surprises that may call for their revision. Large fishery closures established on the George’s Bank off the US east coast in 1994 were designed to help recover populations of groundfish such as cod and haddock.
Few people expected the spectacular rebound of scallops within them, yet the closures clearly became important in restocking local scallop fisheries.

2. Marine reserves must be tailored to local conditions, attitudes, and needs. What works in one place may not be as successful in others. For example, community-based management has worked well at the village level in places such as the Philippines where there is a strong sense of community and use of the sea is primarily by
locals. However, different forms of community involvement are needed for places with large transient populations, such as holiday resorts in the Florida Keys.

3. Stakeholders must be involved at all stages of marine reserve planning and management. Marine reserves established by government order in St. Lucia in the 1980s failed because there was inadequate community participation in the process. Only when officials went back to the drawing board in the early 1990s and initiated detailed discussions with local stakeholders, did the process get back on track. St. Lucia now has a
strong coastal zone management programme based around multiple-use MPAs.

4. Marine reserves often benefit from having a legal base. Reserves that have strong community support can function without a legal basis, but they are vulnerable to loss of protection. Voluntary marine reserves have been established by local supporters around the coast of Britain out of frustration with the inadequacy of the process to establish statutory protection. However, they offer little real protection to the marine life within them.

5. All marine reserves need a management plan. Although it was first established in 1986, the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve (as it was then known) did not have a management plan until the early 1990s. This undermined efforts to provide protection.

6. Local communities should have a role in enforcement. If local people feel they have no role in the management of reserves, they are less likely to support them. Enforcement by government alone can foster local resentment, leading to the development of an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Furthermore, governments can rarely afford to implement the level of patrolling necessary to secure protection.

7.Marine reserves require sufficient, well-trained personnel.The most successful MPAs are those that are watched over and cared for, whether it is by paid staff or volunteers. Sumilon Island reserve in the Philippines was enforced by a single watchman on the beach, the Hol Chan and Saba Marine Parks in the Caribbean are patrolled daily. Lack of staff to implement protection is one of the most pervasive reasons for failure of reserves.
In Florida, the Experimental Oculina Research Reserve was established to protect fragile deep water corals from damage by trawling. Unfortunately, the coastguard, who were given the responsibility of enforcing protection, were fully occupied patrolling for drug runners and the reserve has done little to stem habitat destruction.


8. Marine reserves must be financially sustainable. International donor organizations are very good at injecting large amounts of money for short periods of time to get reserves up and running. They are much less good at ensuring those reserves become self-supporting, despite the fact that parks are worth little more than the paper their regulations are written on without it.

9. Marine reserves should be established within a framework of integrated coastal management. Most marine reserves stop at the high tide line, despite widespread recognition that land and sea are interlinked. The sea is downstream of all that happens on land and what happens there can impact on marine resources. On the
island of Bonaire, in the Caribbean, coral reefs are being damaged by nutrients released into the sea from coastal developments. Uncontrolled nutrient pollution will undermine the best efforts of the park to protect those reefs, but the manager can do little more than lobby for better treatment of waste water.

10. Marine reserve management effectiveness should be monitored and evaluated. Few reserves are adequately monitored yet this is the only way to establish how successful they are. Although the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John in the Caribbean was established in 1956, it wasn’t until the 1990s that monitoring of
fish populations began, revealing that the park had presided over their long-term depletion by fishing. If monitoring had been instituted early on, the park would have discovered the problem long before it became so severe.

11. You cannot separate the need for conservation from the issues of resource use. Throughout the world, millions of people depend on the sea for a livelihood. They will not support reserves if they feel that their livelihoods are threatened by them, even if this is a misperception. Ecological reserves in the proposed management plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary were vehemently opposed by fishers who failed to appreciate how those reserves could contribute to sustaining their livelihoods. It is vital that such concerns are clearly addressed from the outset and resource users have a direct input to the crafting of proposals.

12.Socioeconomic considerations usually determine the success or failure of reserves.Many reserves never make it from proposal to implementation because they are opposed on the grounds that they will adversely affect some user group. For example, an ecological reserve was proposed offshore of Key Largo in the Florida Keys but was shot out of the water by wealthy local residents who were concerned that they would be unable to land fish at their local jetties. Some reserves are implemented and subsequently fail because a few
user groups refuse to accept them and lobby for their removal. The most successful reserves are those where benefits of reserve creation are fed directly back into local communities and help compensate those whose livelihoods have been affected.

13. An imperfect reserve is better than no reserve. As human impacts in the sea grow, so also does the urgency of protecting them. Canadian authorities have been working for years to identify the best sites for marine protected areas, in the process developing detailed maps of marine habitats and resources. Although their aim of creating a comprehensive and representative network of MPAs is laudable, many years passed
before the first reserves were established, while depletion and damage to marine resources continued apace.
Less deliberation and quicker action might have offered greater benefits, even if the sites chosen were not perfect.  

 

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