Aug 12 2013

Environmental cost of conservation victories

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In recent years, Marine Protected Areas (MPA), where fishing is severely restricted or not allowed, have become the Holy Grail of marine conservation for both nongovernmental organizations and governments. In the United States, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the NW Hawaiian Islands became the first large-scale reserve closed to fishing in 2006 (1). This reserve is 90% the size of California and was followed by the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, about half the size of California, in 2009 (2). In total, the United States has established MPAs 19-times the size of California or roughly the area of the Continental United States.

The United States is not alone. The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area in British sub-Antarctic waters is roughly 2.5-times the area of California, and most recently Australia has declared its economic zone in the Coral Sea a no-take area of 3.1 million square kilometers, an area eight times the size of California. All of these areas are heralded as great conservation victories and the Convention on Biodiversity has set a target of 10% of the ocean protected by 2020.

Are these indeed victories? Not necessarily. I suggest it is likely that the world’s environment is actually worse off once such victories are evaluated globally.

Read the full article here.

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