Marine Protected Areas Saving Ocean Resources and Benefiting People

10/8/2008

Workshop Shows Positive Results of Conservation Efforts Worldwide

Barcelona, Spain � Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are proving to be an effective way to conserve vital ocean resources and benefit the coastal communities that depend on those resources, according to research presented at the World Conservation Congress.

During the workshop entitled �Marine Protected Areas: Good for Fish! Good for People?� more than 100 policy-makers, managers and other stakeholders from around the world discussed the pros and cons of creating and managing MPAs.

The workshop found that MPAs require local engagement, sufficient resources and proper management to ensure a successful outcome that brings social and economic benefits while protecting the vital marine ecosystems.

Positive effects of MPAs dating back as long as 20 years include increased and diversified economic opportunities for local people; recognizing traditional fishing and other user rights; enhancing community empowerment, particularly for women and marginalized groups, and resolving user conflicts.

However, successful projects require in-depth understanding of the local context, while the lack of effective governance, resources and management can bring negative effects, including unequal opportunities for economic benefits; a loss of access to fishing grounds; increased dependence on project assistance, and unmet expectations, the workshop concluded.
 
�We can conserve essential marine resources and help people with marine protected areas, but we have to do it right,� said Julien Calas, senior biodiversity program officer of Fond Fran�ais pour l�Environnement Mondial (FFEM). �We now have proof that this model does work. It all depends on how they are developed and managed.�

�There is increased recognition that biodiversity and economic development are complimentary. In fact they have to be; otherwise we as a species will not survive,� said Leah Karrer, Conservation International (CI) senior director of the Marine Management Area Science (MMAS) program. �We will literally drive our food sources; our livelihoods and our very culture to extinction.�

The research focused on three global studies overseen and supported by Conservation International (CI), Fonds Fran�ais pour l�Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the Pew Charitable Trust, and conducted by the University of Connecticut, University of Washington and FFEM consultants.

Preliminary results from a global study overseen and funded by CI and conducted by the University of Connecticut indicate that properly planned and managed MPAs provide a holistic approach to conservation that helps coastal communities and the biodiversity on which they depend.

The study of MPAs in Tanzania, Vietnam, the Philippines and St. Lucia indicated community members felt the MPAs provide various ecological and socio-economic benefits including improved biodiversity, livelihoods and food security, as well as reduced conflicts between communities. In many cases, communities that traditionally depended on fishing alone found that MPAs offered diversified livelihoods including ecotourism, protected area management and even handicrafts made from plants in mangrove swamps.

The second global study conducted by FFEM reviewed eleven projects that included more than 50 MPAs. The study shows that to maximize both socio-economic and ecological benefits, requires different skills and inputs � including scientific expertise, funding and community facilitation � throughout the MPA progress from creation through implementation to routine management.

A third study of 36 sites in the Philippines, supported by the Pew Charitable Trust, demonstrates that collaborative management of MPA networks is working, but that special attention must be paid to local dynamics to ensure that rules and enforcement are fair, that benefits are equitably distributed, and that leadership is fostered. Scaling up of MPAs will ultimately depend on these complex and context-dependent dynamics.

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The workshop findings will be presented at a reception on the "Fleur de Lampaul" ship hosted by Fondation Nicolas Hulot at 12 noon on Wed., Oct. 8, 2008. Journalists are invited to attend for further information. Refreshments will be provided.

Media Contacts:

Julien Calas
French Global Environment Facility
Phone: +33 1 3 44 37 79
Email: calasj@afd.fr

Tom Cohen
Conservation International
Phone in Barcelona: +34-636834066
Office Phone: 1 (202) 257-9954
E-mail: tcohen@conservation.org

Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth�s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.

The French Global Environment Facility (FGEF) is a bilateral fund which was set up in 1994 by the French government following the Rio Summit. The FGEF was established in order to promote protection of the global environment in developing and transitional countries through projects for economic and social development.

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