Success of marine protected areas found to depend on five key features

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 6 February 2014

Success of marine protected areas found to depend on five key features A paper just published in the journal Nature gives some insights into just how well marine protected areas (MPAs) are faring in delivering on their conservation potential.

Success of marine protected areas found to depend on five key features A paper just published in the journal Nature gives some insights into just how well marine protected areas (MPAs) are faring in delivering on their conservation potential. While warning that many MPAs around the world are not showing significant benefits, the authors say that some key factors lead to success, and point to a future that can be improved with better planning, management and enforcement. They say that there is an increase in MPA effectiveness when sites are large, have been in place for a significant length of time (over ten years), incorporate no-take measures, have protection enforced effectively, and have a siginificant degree of isolation. “Things are slowly changing. We need to speed this up, and bring No Take into the equation so that we see the real recovery potential of our seas,” says Dr Solandt. Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS senior biodiversity policy officer says, “This is a useful study to focus minds on setting up MPAs in the right places, at the right levels of protection, and with good anticipation of governance issues. While some MPAs may not be working well, we would argue that you can’t get everything right initially, and can work towards effective management”. MCS is keen to see a network of MPAs working well within waters close to home. “In the UK, some of our designated sites are quite large, but they tend not to be highly protected, with unclear management measures set in place. It has taken MCS many years to even get the most obvious habitats protected by government and local fisheries regulators. There is now - at last - a new management approach to stopping bottom trawling in these sites”. The paper summary can be viewed here.

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