Paper parks: ‘Two-thirds of MPAs ineffective’

MPA in Australia (Rich Handley)

Only a third of the world’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are capable of offering real protection on a global scale – even though they are supposed to ensure the long-term conservation of marine ecosystems and the services they provide for human societies. 

This is the grim finding of a new study carried out by a team of scientists from the USA, France and Portugal. They analysed the world’s 100 largest MPAs, which they say together represent 90% of the total area covered, and found that a quarter of the surface area supposedly protected was in fact unregulated and unmanaged. 

More than a third of the MPAs allowed industrial activities such as large-scale commercial fishing, even though the practice was not only incompatible but considered the main cause of ocean biodiversity loss. 

Map identifying the world's 100 largest MPAs and protection levels for marine ecosystems. (Morgan et al / Conservation Letters)
Map identifying the world’s 100 largest MPAs and protection levels for marine ecosystems. (Morgan et al / Conservation Letters)

The study also points out that large MPAs exist disproportionately in remote areas and the overseas territories of certain nations – to the detriment of important habitats and species located in ocean regions heavily affected by human activities.

Protection overestimated

The research was carried out for the MPA Guide, a framework set up in 2021 to achieve global goals for the ocean. According to the team the guide has established a link between scientific evidence and conservation outcomes, and a means of categorising MPAs and their usefulness.

Current assessment and monitoring methods overestimate the quantity of protection provided by MPAs to the detriment of quality, say the research team, who are now calling for stricter applications of MPA guidelines to ensure that they all meet international standards. 

While the implementation of MPAs is a key tool for achieving the United Nations objective of protecting at least 30% of the oceans by 2030, the scientists propose that no area with an unknown or insufficient level of protection should be taken into account any longer; that MPAs should be extended to cover all marine ecosystems; and that the 2023 international treaty on the protection of the high seas should be ratified to include only those MPAs that offer a high level of protection.

The study is published this month in the journal Conservation Letters

Also on Divernet: Case closed? Strict MPA enforcement is win-win, Socorro study hoped to silence MPA critics, Bottom-trawling banned in 4 UK MPAs, Why marine protection’ means little in Europe

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@dekkerlundquist5938
#ASKMARK Hello Mark, while out diving recently I talked to an experienced diver who was diving with twins but did not have any manifold on them, i.e. each cylinder had a first stage with a primary and an SPG. One cylinder had the low pressure inflator for his BC. What are the pros and cons of a manifold setup versus independent twins?

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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00:40 What's the point of independent twins?
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