Management of Marine Protected Areas
Management of Marine Protected Areas
So much of our national and international effort to protect nature has been concentrated on terrestrial protected areas. Even the international agreements under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have accorded less prominence to protecting coastal and marine areas. Indeed, it was not until the agreement of the CBD's Aichi targets for 2020 in 2012 that marine protection began to gather real momentum with a target of 10% coverage compared with 17% for the terrestrial environment. This refocusing is a welcome recognition of the importance of looking after coastal and marine ecosystems in the longer term, especially in the light of the progressive degradation as a result of human activities at sea and on land and the relatively uncertain effects of global climate change. Now, there is a need to concentrate greater effort on strategic planning in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, including the establishment, protection and enforcement of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in these two naturally, culturally, economically and socially important seas. So this book is a timely reminder of what we know, what problems need to be addressed, what progress has been made, what can be learnt from other parts of the world, what actions are being taken and what more needs to be done using MPA mechanisms and processes to sustain life in and around the seas in the longer term.
It is obvious that the coastal and marine environment cannot be considered in isolation to what happens on land, especially the effects of infrastructure development on many parts of the coastline of the two seas to exploit the favourable weather conditions and shoreline situations and the delivery of water, nutrients and pollutants (and consequential eutrophication) into the seas from the surrounding rivers.
It is also obvious that looking after the marine environment of the two seas cannot just focus on nature and be a top-down process focusing on the protection of species and habitats. Both seas have a long history of human occupation and human passage in all directions and there are many internationally important cultural artefacts reflecting this long history. And there are many communities still dependent on the seas for the provision of natural resources for human survival, especially fish. The question of which comes first - nature or people - is an often-posed one in this book. The answer is both as they are really indivisible - hence the development of new approaches to looking after nature, including MPAs, which stress the importance of societal engagement throughout rather than the more traditional western approach of leaving it to the experts in nature. This does not mean that understanding and maintaining and, where necessary, restoring natural processes is not important: it is vital for the future of nature itself and for the survival of human societies.
The development of protection of the coastal and marine environment has to be seen from the perspective of nation states which have a stake. In all, 21 nations have coasts on the Mediterranean Sea, and whilst there are six on the Black Sea coast, another 10 nations make inputs through the rivers flowing into the sea.
With these points in mind, why do the Mediterranean and Black Seas require MPAs? The simple answer is that there are international and regional agreements requiring signatory states to protect the marine environment. More fundamentally, there remain many conflicts, for example, between fishermen and conservation to ensure that fish stocks are in a healthy biological state for the future, between tourism development and coastal pollution, between waste disposal through the river systems and the cleanliness of the marine environment, and between over-exploitation of key species and water pollution and their gradual loss and in some cases extinction. And, there is the potential inequality between those nations which exploit more resourc