Conservation & Sustainable Management, Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood, Science Communication

Oh Canada – what about your ocean?

This is a big post.  It’s about big things.  Important things too.  It deals with Canada – a big country.  Actually by area, it is the second largest country in the world.  It also has a lot of ocean under its jurisdiction.  Take a look at the website of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a Federal government body, and you will see statements like this:

“The Government of Canada is working to ensure the future health of Canada’s oceans and ocean resources by increasing understanding and protection of our oceans; supporting sustainable economic opportunities; and demonstrating international leadership in oceans management”

Sounds good doesn’t it.  The Canadian Federal Government (which has just changed as of yesterday – see bottom of the post) have a several Acts in place to govern the bit of the ocean they have claimed as theirs.  Great stuff!  Except maybe, as demonstrated in a recently published paper, authored by 19 Canadian scientists including lead-author Megan Bailey (Dalhousie University), “over the past decade decision-making at the federal level appears to have undermined the government’s own mandates for the sustainable management of Canada’s oceansContinue reading “Oh Canada – what about your ocean?”

Conservation & Sustainable Management

Canada’s marine protected areas protect…. not very much

Current levels of protection inside Canada’s MPAs [marine protected areas] are inadequate to provide the long-term conservation of marine biodiversity. For the most part, there is little difference between what is allowed inside our MPAs and what occurs outside their boundaries”.

Little difference… that’s a pretty damning statement from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), an NGO established in 1963. After all, what is the point of a MPA that offers little to no protection? There are 740 MPAs covering just 1% of Canada’s ocean, far below internationally agreed Aichi targets of 10% (which in itself is far below the minimum recommended by scientists).

Continue reading “Canada’s marine protected areas protect…. not very much”

Conservation & Sustainable Management

Marine Protection Goals Are on Target, But Still Not Enough

Mark Spalding and colleagues have recently released a study assessing the state of the world’s marine protected areas.  Although uptake in these areas has increased over the last decade, and we might actually be on track for reaching 10% ocean protection by 2020 (this was originally 2012…we missed that by a long way), the authors note all is not quite what it seems.  Paper highlights (taken from this paper review, plus an addition from me) are as follows:

– A small number of large MPAs are responsible for much of the global growth: The 20 largest MPAs account for 60% of the entire global MPA coverage, with an increasing trend to cover remote and off shore areas.

– By contrast, in terms of numbers, the majority of MPAs are small and are found in coastal and near-shore waters. Even with these there is a focus on sparsely populated areas. The average MPA is small and most are not effectively managed.

– MPA coverage is highly variable — while 28 countries have now exceeded 10% coverage of their waters, some 111 are still at less than 1%.

– MPA coverage does not equal protection: MPAs can be ineffective due to failures in management or design. A simple numbers-based approach ignores the challenges of effectively designing MPAs to provide the most benefit for marine biodiversity and for people.

– Designing MPAs for people — is crucial to get right. For the past decade or more, the conservation community has touted MPAs as tools to help reduce poverty and improve human wellbeing for local communities. While some are doing that quite effectively, they are rare. This study was the first to plot MPAs alongside coastal density, finding that most MPAs are in areas far away from people, in remote ecosystems that typically have high levels of biodiversity and few conflicting demands for ocean space.

– MPA success at reaching biodiversity targets and rebuilding of associated ecosystem serves is heavily dependent on how we use the surrounding waters.  MPAs are not islands isolated from the rest of the ocean.

The original paper is open access – meaning free for all tor read.

Image: Sign marking the no-take marine sanctuary on Apo Island, Philippines. Credit Rebecca Weeks/Marine Photobank