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The United Nations’ target for global ocean protection is 10% of the ocean in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020. There has been remarkable progress in the last decade, and some organizations claim that 7% of the ocean is already protected and that we will exceed the 10% target by 2020. However, currently only 3.6% of the ocean is in implemented MPAs, and only 2% is in implemented strongly or fully protected areas. Here we argue that current protection has been overestimated because it includes areas that are not yet protected, and that areas that allow significant extractive activities such as fishing should not count as ‘protected.’ The most rigorous projections suggest that we will not achieve the 10% target in truly protected areas by 2020. Strongly or fully protected areas are the only ones achieving the goal of protecting biodiversity; hence they should be the MPA of choice to achieve global ocean conservation targets.
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Marine Policy
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Assessing real progress towards eective ocean protection
Enric Sala
, Jane Lubchenco
, Kirsten Grorud-Colvert
, Catherine Novelli
, Callum Roberts
U. Rashid Sumaila
National Geographic Society, 1145 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
Oregon State University, 3029, Cordley Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-2914, United States
Former Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, United States
University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5NG, United Kingdom
Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia, AERL, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
The United Nationstarget for global ocean protection is 10% of the ocean in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by
2020. There has been remarkable progress in the last decade, and some organizations claim that 7% of the ocean
is already protected and that we will exceed the 10% target by 2020. However, currently only 3.6% of the ocean
is in implemented MPAs, and only 2% is in implemented strongly or fully protected areas. Here we argue that
current protection has been overestimated because it includes areas that are not yet protected, and that areas
that allow signicant extractive activities such as shing should not count as protected.The most rigorous
projections suggest that we will not achieve the 10% target in truly protected areas by 2020. Strongly or fully
protected areas are the only ones achieving the goal of protecting biodiversity; hence they should be the MPA of
choice to achieve global ocean conservation targets.
1. Introduction
The United NationsConvention on Biological Diversity (CBD) es-
tablished a target of 10% of the ocean to be protected by 2020 (Aichi
Target 11). UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) adopts and
reinforces this commitment. Many scientists argue that the 10% target
is a rst milestone for global ocean protection, not an endpoint, because
a wealth of scientic studies suggest that at least 30% of the ocean
should be protected to achieve the desired benets for conservation of
biodiversity [1]. Echoing the need for greater protection, the IUCN
World Conservation Congress in 2016 recommended the goal of pro-
tecting 30% of the ocean in highly protectedareas by 2030. In the
spirit of transparency and accountability, we pose the question, Is the
global community on track to achieve these goals?
The good news is that there has been remarkable progress in the last
decade. For almost all of the 20th Century, Marine Protected Areas
(MPAs) covered less than 0.1% of the surface area of the ocean. Over
the last decade, a number of countries have established more and larger
MPAs, tilting the trajectory of area protected steeply upward [2].
Moreover, the Sustainable Development Goals have elevated biodi-
versity and protected areas into a broader set of goals focused not only
on conservation but also on complementary integrated approaches to
development that promote human wellbeing.
The bad news is that as countriesrush to meet their 10% targets by
2020, there has been scant attention given to what is being counted as
protected. Here we go beyond the numbers reported by countries and
focus on what is being counted vs. what should be counted. We argue
that the numbers reported by many countries and tallied as ocial UN
statistics are in fact misrepresentations for two reasons. First, they in-
clude announcements of either the intent to create an MPA or the
designation of an MPA, neither of which constitutes actual, im-
plemented, on-the-water protection. Second, they include areas that are
not truly protected because they allow signicant extractive activities
that undermine biodiversity conservation. We expand on both of these
points below, then propose what we believe should be counted based on
scientic evidence.
2. Current protection has been overestimated
In June 2017, the Executive Secretary of the CBD claimed at the
United Nations Ocean Conference that, based on reports from member
countries, 5.7% of the ocean was already protected, and that we are on
track to exceed the 10% target by 2020 (
press/2017/pr-201706-05-mpa-pub-en.pdf). Similarly, the United
Nations Environment Program's World Conservation Monitoring Centre
(WCMC) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Received 8 November 2017; Received in revised form 3 February 2018; Accepted 3 February 2018
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (E. Sala).
Marine Policy 91 (2018) 11–13
Available online 16 February 2018
0308-597X/ © 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
(IUCN) claim that 6.97% of the ocean was covered by protected areas in
2017 ( The problem is that the
numbers announced by the CBD and WCMC/IUCN lump together three
distinct stages in the process of creating a protected area: (1) an-
nouncement of an intent or commitment to create an MPA; (2) legal
designation of an MPA; and (3) actual implementation of an MPA. We
assert that only the last stage should count as protectionbecause until
something changes on or in the water, the habitats and species therein
are not really protected. This is akin to allowing someone who an-
nounces they will lose weight to immediately report that they achieved
their target weight. An announcement is a great place to start, but is no
guarantee that the goal will, in reality, be achieved. In a similar fashion,
legally designating an MPA that will conserve biodiversity is progress to
be celebrated, but it does not guarantee implementation of changes in
management required for actual protection. In fact, there are numerous
examples of commitments or legal designations that have not resulted
in implementation, such as the 620,000 km
Kermadec Ocean
Sanctuary in New Zealand, and the 1.3 million km
Coral Sea Natural
Park in New Caledonia.
In stark contrast to the CBD announcements, the most accurate and
widely accepted tally of all MPAs that have been implemented as of
January 2018 is only 3.6% of the global ocean ( (Fig. 1).
An additional 1.6% of the ocean has been designated as protected, but
not yet implemented. An additional 2.1% would be protected if various
proposals by conservation organizations and commitments by countries
were fullled. It is heartening to see progress in all three categories, but
in the spirit of transparency and accountability, neither of the latter two
categories should count as currently protected until they are truly
If all of the announced and planned MPAs as of January 2018 were
implemented, by 2020, 7.3% of the ocean would be in implemented
MPAs. While the global community should indeed celebrate this pro-
gress, it falls short of the 10% commitments.
3. Only strongly or fully protected areas achieve the goal of
protecting biodiversity
CBD Aichi Target 11 falls under Strategic Goal C: To improve the
status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic
diversity,making clear the intent the signatories had for this target.
Extractive activities tend to degrade biodiversity instead of improve it
except if non-native species harmful to local ecosystems are being re-
moved. Areas that allow anything more than very minimal shing or
other extractive activities cannot safeguard the biodiversity in a given
place, and these should not count towards the CBD target. They can
have other important goals such as making shing more sustainable,
but that is not the same as biodiversity protection.
Unfortunately, the term MPAis currently being used so loosely that
it no longer connotes meaningful protection. As currently used, the
term is a catchall bucket that contains everything from fully protected
marine reserves to an area in which only one species is protected or one
activity is disallowed. Even shery management areas are counted as
protectedby some countries when in reality these areas would not be
expected to conserve biodiversity based on their stated goals.
There is abundant evidence that no-take fully protected areas are
the most eective type of MPA for restoring and protecting biodiversity.
Commonly called marine reserves, fully protected areas can on
average increase total sh biomass by over 600%, organism size by over
25%, and species richness by over 20% relative to unprotected areas
nearby [3,4]. In contrast, MPAs that allow some or a lot of shing
(called partially protected areas) typically do not even double sh
biomass compared to unprotected areas, and leave many vulnerable
species at continued risk [4,5].
In addition, marine reserves help restore the interactions among
species and the complexity of ecosystems through a chain of ecological
eects, once the abundance of large animals and habitat-structuring
species recovers suciently. Marine reserves are not immune to all the
eects of climate change, but evidence to date indicates that reserves
with complex, intact ecosystems often better resist and recover from
disturbances compared to unprotected areas [6].
Evidence clearly shows that partially protected MPAs do not deliver
the same biodiversity and conservation benets as fully protected areas.
They can and often do, however, provide other useful outcomes for
shery management and conict avoidance or resolution where mul-
tiple uses occur. For example, partially protected areas can help restore
the abundance of some commercial species by banning specicshing
gears, or prevent habitat destruction by excluding bottom trawling. But
because these areas are tools to manage sheries or other uses, they
should be called marine managed areas,not Marine Protected
Areas. They help manage shing better, but do not allow for full
ecosystem recovery.
Although marine reserves may be established to protect ecosystems
within their boundaries, they have also been shown to enhance local
sheries and create jobs and new incomes through ecotourism [7],
while also serving as insurance against management mistakes and un-
certainty [8,9]. For all of these reasons, fully protected marine reserves
or strongly protected areas should be the tools of choice to achieve the
CBD's and the SDG's targets for global protection and conservation of
ocean ecosystems.
4. MPAs that dont provide real protection should not count as
protected areas
Many MPAs (whether announced, designated, or implemented) are
in fact not truly protected. To date, only 2% of the global ocean is fully
or strongly protected (Fig. 1). (Fully protectedis dened as an area
where all shing, mining, oil and gas or any other extractive activity or
destructive activities such as dumping are prohibited; strongly pro-
tectedrefers to an area where only minimal recreational or artisanal
shing occurs.) Countries and UN bodies should not assert that more
protection exists than is real and veriable. To claim the world is close
to the UN target is false and counterproductive. To prevent confusion
and error, the IUCN produced a set of guidelines in 2012 stating that
spatial areas which may incidentally appear to deliver nature con-
servation but do not have stated nature conservation objectives should
not automatically be classied as MPAs[10]. These include areas that
are primarily shery management areas, i.e., areas set aside for other
purposes but which also have conservation benet (e.g., military
training areas, communications cable or pipeline protection areas,
shipping lanes), and large areas (e.g., countries or regions) where in-
dividual species are protected by law (e.g., whales).
For example, the United Kingdom (excluding its overseas territories)
claims to protect 23% of its seas in 293 MPAs (
page-4549). Yet only three of them 7.5 km
out of the 750,000 km
Exclusive Economic Zone are fully protected. Most provide no
Fig. 1. Percentages of the ocean in dierent stages of MPA creation (proposed, designated
but not implemented, implemented) for all MPAs and for only Strongly to Fully Protected
MPAs, as of January 2018. Source:
E. Sala et al. Marine Policy 91 (2018) 11–13
protection at all from damaging activities like bottom trawling and
dredging [11]. At the Our Ocean conference in Malta in October 2017,
Spain also claimed to protect 13% of its seas (https://www. However, less than 1%
of Spain's EEZ is fully protected from shing, and most areas only
protectedas Natura 2000 sites have no management plan or special
regulations that provide any signicant protection to the marine fauna.
The eectiveness, representativeness, and potential for connectivity
are all important for evaluating progress towards the Aichi target [12].
The ocean needs all types of MPAs, from large to small, from remote to
adjacent to inhabited areas [13]. Because the world is so far behind
achieving the target, every MPA that truly protects an area for the
conservation and/or restoration of biodiversity at all levels should
The 10% target is not impossible. After all, this last decade saw over
an order of magnitude increase in strongly protected areas (from <
0.12%) [2] Nonetheless, a signicant eort must continue if we are to
reach the goal.
In the end, it is the on- and in-the-water protection that really
counts. Areas that are nothing more than lines on a map, without any
implemented conservation regulation or management plan, should not
count and should not be accepted in national or global tallies until they
are truly protected. Fully protected marine reserves are the best bet for
achieving ocean protection and should be accurately tallied to assess
progress. It goes without saying that enforcement of protected areas is
Sustainable use of areas outside truly protected areas (i.e., most of
the ocean) is of equal importance to protection of habitats and biodi-
versity within protected areas. But it is not productive to conate the
two goals of biodiversity protection and sustainable sheries. The two
are complementary and both are needed to achieve the UN Sustainable
Development Goal 14 (as well as other SDG goals). The existence of
biological, ecological, and social interactions between protected areas
and sheries or other extractive activities provides ample opportunity
for the integrated approaches called for in SDG 14, but that does not
mean a shery management areaisaprotected area.
5. Conclusion
If the world is to achieve the United Nationstarget of 10% of the
ocean protected by 2020, countries need to implement what has been
committed, enact what has been suggested, and create new fully pro-
tected areas. There needs to be greater clarity of terms and increased
transparency and accountability of achievements. The authors of this
paper pledge to work together with colleagues around the world to help
clarify and harmonize the language and approaches to achieve the Aichi
and SDG targets and goals in a manner that truly protects marine bio-
diversity while supporting sustainable development. Research from
around the world shows that fully and strongly protected areas can
deliver more benets to local communities and nearby sheries than
the general status quo of overexploitation [7]. This suggests that sus-
tainable development requires more areas set aside as an investment for
the future (in addition to better management of sheries around them)
and as insurance against uncertainties and human errors. To meet their
commitment to biodiversity protection, nations of the world should
accelerate the creation, implementation, and enforcement of genuine
protected areas within their exclusive economic zones and in the high
This paper originated from the discussions at a science side event at
the Our Oceanconference in Malta on October 6, 2017. We are
grateful to Dan Myers, Eline Boon, and the conference organizers for
their support. Funding was provided by National Geographic Pristine
Seas and the Waitt Foundation.
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E. Sala et al. Marine Policy 91 (2018) 11–13
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Following the previous chapter about ecosystem conservation and restoration, we also need to strengthen the monitoring of climate change and biodiversity with the help of a plan that involves people outside the academic context. Citizen science has been shown to be a very good tool for providing useful data for scientists, if well directed. For example, the monitoring of invasive species is impossible to do from research institutes due to lack of money, tools and personnel. But well trained, even sporadic tourists can give useful information about their distribution. This is also true in the case of rare or endangered species, or in migrations or the detection of anomalies. They can also be useful in tracking marine litter, not only helping to clean beaches and seabed, but also observing the origin of that waste thanks to photos or collections that can be used to understand where the objects come from. Other observations and data collection are more complex, and require specialists to make adequate quantitative observations, but may still benefit from broad support from people who want to help in the logistical part. Once again, indigenous people are put in the spotlight, because they help to solve many problems thanks to their great local wisdom. We are realizing that many of the things we do to monitor and give keys for conservation are provided by local populations who have lived in, protected or managed the areas we want to study for hundreds of years or millennia. That is why it is important to accelerate the follow-up processes by broadening the spectrum of people who can help in these processes, professionals and non-professionals alike. However, there are limits. Specialist teams are still needed to do sampling, monitoring or experiments. The tools used by scientific research teams to make such monitoring programs have substantially advanced. The technology to keep track of the problems we have in the oceans has made a really important qualitative leap. For example, although attempts have been made to track oil spills in certain circumstances, only the collection of data by specialists can help to understand the origin of contaminants. Coastal and ocean governance needs a paradigm change. We need co-governance processes in which democratic decisions, education and awareness-raising fit together. The models in which people interact with science, problems and solutions about the oceans are more and more demanded, and the last two decades have been crucial. An authentic bottom-up process in which all these advances and the different ways of observing nature and the impacts suffered are available to non-specialists. Without that bridge, we will not be able to create the necessary conditions to reverse the process of deterioration of our oceans.
An important part of the health of the oceans depends on a good balance of the biogeochemical cycles. Both climate change (in its broadest sense, from the warming of the oceans to acidification) and the introduction of excess nutrients or heavy metals have caused, in many places, distortions in the balances between chemical elements, organisms and detritus. A series of scenarios have been created in which the excess or absence of certain components are distorting carbon fluxes or biomass accumulation. Such changes are not new at all, but now are accelerating and we have to be ready to understand and manage the repercussions that they may have locally and globally. An increase in nitrogen and phosphorus due to land changes in the Amazon, together with other local phenomena, are promoting an uncontrolled increase in Sargassum, which moves every year with the currents until it invades the Caribbean coast, for example. There is such inertia in the entry of these nutrients into the ocean that it becomes difficult to manage them, and even in areas where there is already a much more exhaustive control of the agricultural or industrial activities that promote them, the proliferation of micro and macro algae seems unstoppable. The microbial composition and also the seasonality are key points that have to be considered, especially when certain physical phenomena are weakened such as upwelling (and the related nutrient supply) or the ocean currents (and the related nutrient transport). Several models are based not only on temperature changes (which affect the availability of macro and micronutrients) but also on coastal morphology and local current dynamics. Such models are complex but very useful to understand, locally, what may happen with a cascade effect, such as the relationship of biogeochemical cycles with primary productivity and, in turn, with biomass production. Climate change is greatly affecting this nutrient availability, not only because the physical-chemical balance may be changing, but also because the organisms that process these nutrients are also changing and their ability to recycle may be affected. Acidification also enters this equation, which makes some microelements less available, or makes some species (for example, coccolithophorids) less capable of completing their life cycles, compete for nutrients or suffer more predation because they have more fragile structures. Latitude must also be taken into account in these changes, both due to the effects of climate change and the direct impacts of human activities that have profoundly transformed many ocean environments. In certain areas the predominance of the impact on biogeochemical cycle comes from the direct action of humans (e.g. fertilizers, farming, etc.), but in others the predominance comes from the warming or acidifying effect due to climate change. Thus, for example, the most accelerated changes in the Arctic are having very rapid effects on these biogeochemical cycles, both due to the increase in temperature and acidification and also due to the fact that the dynamics and coverage of the ice are changing. In this area, the direct impacts by pollution and eutrophication are replaced by climate change accelerating paths. Associated with these changes in nutrient cycles is the decrease in available oxygen that alters the physiological capacities of some organisms. The increase in temperature, the decrease in primary production and the slowdown in currents in various parts of the planet are affecting the response capacity of organisms, from benthic to pelagic. No less important is also the fact that stormy phenomena of different types are increasing in frequency and intensity. Storms and hurricanes are also responsible for the distortion of biogeochemical cycles, in some cases impoverishing biomass production and its quality for the following trophic levels. It is a very complex scenario in which the physiology and adaptability of many organisms is at stake, and which we will have to understand in order to properly manage marine resources in the near future.
Climate change, rigorously heralded more than thirty years ago as a real threat, has become the most pressing and pernicious global problem for the entire planet. In conjunction with local impacts such as fishing, eutrophication or the invasion of alien species, to give just a few examples, the acidification of the oceans and the warming of the sea began to show its effects more than twenty years ago. These signals were ignored at the time by the governing bodies and by the economic stakeholders, who now see how we must run to repair the huge inflicted damage. Today, different processes are accelerating, and the thermodynamic machine has definitely deteriorated. We see, for example, that the intensity and magnitude of hurricanes and typhoons has increased. Most models announce more devastation of flash floods and a decomposition in the water cycle, which are factors directly affecting ecosystems all over the world. Important advances are also observed in the forecasting of impacts of atmospheric phenomena in coastal areas with more and more accurate models. Rising temperatures and acidification already affect many organisms, impacting the entire food chain. All organisms, pelagic or benthic, will be affected directly or indirectly by climate change at all depths and in all the latitudes. The impact will be non-homogeneous. In certain areas it will be more drastic than in others, and the visualization of such impacts is already ongoing. Some things may be very evident, such as coral mortalities in tropical areas or in the surface waters of the Mediterranean, while others may be less visible, such as changes in microelement availability affecting plankton productivity. In fact, primary productivity in microalgae, macroalgae and phanerogams is already beginning to feel the impact of warmer, stratified and nutrient-poor waters in many parts of the planet. Nutrients are becoming less available, temperature is rising above certain tolerance limits and water movement (turbulence) may change in certain areas favoring certain species of microplankton instead of others. All these mechanisms, together with light availability (which, in principle, is not drastically changing except for the cloudiness), affect the growth of the organisms that can photosynthesize and produce oxygen and organic matter for the rest of the trophic chain. That shift in productivity completely changes the rest of the food chain. In the Arctic or Antarctic, the problem is slightly different. Life depends on the dynamics of ice that is subject to seasonal changes. But winter solidification and summer dissolution is undergoing profound changes, causing organisms that are adapted to that rhythm of ice change to be under pressure. The change is more evident in the North Pole, but is also visible in the South pole, where the sea ice cover has also dramatically changed. In the chapter there is also a mention about the general problem of the water currents and their profound change do greenhouse gas effects. The warming of the waters and their influence on the marine currents are also already affecting the different ocean habitats. The slowdown of certain processes is causing an acceleration in the deoxygenation of the deepest areas and therefore an impact on the fragile communities of cold corals that populate large areas of our planet. Many organisms will be affected in their dispersion and their ability to colonize new areas or maintain a connection between different populations. The rapid adaptations to these new changes are apparent. Nature is on its course of restart from these new changes, but in this transitional phase the complexity and interactions that have taken thousands or millions of years to form can fade away until a new normal is consolidated.
The impacts of industrial fishing have been present in the oceans for over one hundred years, but the exponential increase all over the world and the systematic exploitation of different areas started after world war II. The phenomenon of fishing has to be understood in order to understand the changes in the oceans, and such deep transformation is essential to capture the essence of the resilience: the collapse of fish stocks, the lack of biodiversity, and the profound transformation of ecosystems due to overfishing is in part responsible for the ocean’s impacted functioning that we witness today. It now seems that the collapse of many habitats is to blame for rising acidification or temperature, but the reality is that the impact of overfishing on pelagic and benthic systems is largely responsible for the profound transformations we see today. Trawling has devastated entire ecosystems, destroying the complexity of marine forests, both those that are dominated by vegetal organisms (macroalgae and phanerogams) and those dominated by animals (corals, gorgonians, sponges, etc.). It has been possible to verify that it is not only the destruction of the structures, but the compaction of the sediment and the continuous resuspension that made possible the impoverishment of the communities and therefore of the impoverishment of the fishing stocks. Beyond these impacts, pelagic fisheries have seen profound changes in populations, which evolve to the sound of fishing pressure. The minimum size of successful reproduction (i.e. the size in which the fish is lying eggs to promote the continuity of the populations), for example, has been drastically changed in many species, making possible for populations to survive despite the immense pressure of the predator, us. In addition, these fisheries highlight the fact that many animals are trapped with nets and long lines (dolphins, turtles, birds, etc.). The solutions to these problems are sometimes difficult to apply. These large organisms are usually essential for the health status of the ecosystem and the maintenance of the biodiversity, but we are impacting them in such a way that they have become irrelevant from an ecosystem functioning point of view. The so-called by-catch of smaller organisms is another huge problem. Discards (sometimes more than 50% of fisheries) profoundly harm and transform the ecosystem, and are difficult to sell in the fishing market. Solutions have been sought for decades and this collateral damage has been denounced, but there is still a long way to go. There is also a long way to go to eliminate the high percentage (calculated in more than a quarter of the fish landings of the entire planet) of those known as illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries. This type of mismanagement of the sea is at the heart of the active policies of many countries, but without transparency and transnational actions, it will it will be difficult to reach a good agreement to suppress or minimize them. In fisheries models, apart from direct impacts, the effects of climate change have long been implemented. As already explained in the previous chapter, rising temperatures and the effects of acidification are transforming the landscape of primary and secondary productivity. The most obvious of these changes is the fact that there will be less fishing, and therefore less production. The effect of lower productivity is already felt in several long-lasting time series, where fishing is being affected by the decrease in phytoplankton. But, in addition, there are less obvious effects. One is the substitution of species, because some are more vulnerable than others to the increase in temperature, so that in the same taxonomic and functional group those who are best adapted to the new conditions win. Another is the expansion of invasive species that directly affect the food chain, and that may feel more comfortable with the new “rules” of fisheries impact and climate change. Some animals are already undergoing these changes, such as cetaceans dying of starvation in certain areas where the synergistic effects of fishing and climate change are felt. The co-governance of fisheries, in which scientists, politicians and society work together, is essential to move forward. They are not hollow words; they are real needs in a world of an excessively accelerated change.
It is difficult to make a synthesis of the new trends in the so-called Blue Growth. This chapter opens a small window with some examples that can serve to understand a little bit the trends of some (not all) sectors that are in full expansion all over the world simultaneously, with their pros and cons. There is a need to change the rules of the game, the paradigms to which we have so far been working with. It is not a simple exercise. It needs a lot of will and a deep understanding of what are the limits and dangers of the old model in which we still live immersed. Many examples show that the actual model runs too fast and has a direct impact on natural resources and ecosystem functioning. In this framework, aquaculture is coming under specific scrutiny. We have gone from an almost negligible aquaculture figure in the ‘70s in terms of fisheries production, to almost half of the biomass extracted from the sea and continental waters from this “farming” activity. This is a considerable achievement, but it has its consequences. The impact of monocultures (salmon, shrimp, etc.) has been, in many places, equal to or worse than overfishing. Eutrophication, salinization, introduction of drugs to contain diseases, the use of wild fish to feed mariculture species or the systematic hunting of potential predators (eagles, seals, etc.) are only some of the problems associated with aquaculture nowadays. The impact on wild ecosystems such as mangroves or fjords is very relevant, and has been highlighted as one of the most important problems to be solved in coastal waters. A new vision is that of the Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture. This is a method that is gaining strength and that may be the change we need, especially if we move from species of high energy and carbon investment (carnivores) to those species that require less energetic effort (such as bivalves, macroalgae, holothurians, etc.). To do this, one of the first things to do is a good forecast of the impact of climate change, selecting the most suitable organisms (and areas) according to the changing environmental conditions. The regional possibilities (i.e., those areas that may be suitable for a mariculture expansion) and the carrying capacity of the surrounding ecosystems according to different areas must also be taken into account if we want a significant paradigm change. Also, the inclusion of stakeholders and clear co-governance roles of these kind of infrastructures has to be understood as a tool to a successful management of the products that will be available for the local people. The Blue Growth related to the mariculture is not the only open front for the future. The use of microalgae is another type of approach to a future in which low-energy cost organisms are gradually taking center stage. The possibilities have a wide spectrum, and now these microorganisms are beginning to be applied industrially in nutraceuticals, biofuels or for the generation of interesting molecules for biomedical applications. The solutions are there, and changing the priorities and the way we apply the different discoveries to be in line with SDG14 in this Blue Growth strategy is a challenge. In fact, it is not all positive prospects in Blue Growth. There are cases in which excessive acceleration of production and inadequate management of “new generation” resources can cause stress on systems, especially in places with fragile ecosystem balances. In addition, considering the production of alternative energies such as offshore wind, or the new planning of maritime traffic, we have to deeply change our way to proceed. The Blue Growth roadmap must change the paradigm if we really want to consider it sustainable. New solutions and new perspectives in a changing world that require spatial planning and a very different model of resource management than the one we are now applying are urgently needed, considering new models of production, economy and social interaction.
The acceleration of the processes of biodiversity loss and complexity has gone too far, putting ourselves as a species in a crossroads. We now understand that it is not enough to conserve, we need to regenerate. That regeneration goes through two different paradigm changes. The first takes into account upscaling plans. That concept is based on the fact that restoration to regenerate ecosystems is on the verge, but there is a lack of a good plan to create large-scale animal and plant forest restoration programs in different areas of the oceans. The second paradigm is the participation of people, but not only as volunteers; the restoration plans need them as customers. The first paradigm is closely linked to the second. There has to be a business model that allows, in part, to pay for conservation and restoration, which, in turn, will allow for regeneration. However, we are not talking about a privatization process, as has sometimes been attempted. It is not about allowing access only to those who can afford it. Is about making people of different economic statuses and possibilities a part of the process of restoring, and giving them a real return in terms of awareness, education and enthusiasm related to the enhancement and recovery of biodiversity and complexity. People are willing to pay to maintain that complexity, that beauty, that diversity of animals and plants. Tourism can, therefore, make a difference in new conservation plans. It is not enough to expand marine protected areas, we must provide financial mechanisms so that the surveillance and infrastructure of the area we want to regenerate can be maintained. At the same time that this area is preserved, it can be replanted. Methods to quantify biodiversity, calculate the metabolism of the system and recover degraded areas with underwater gardening exist. It is demonstrated, for example, in the advances made in transplant methods for phanerogams, the environmental DNA to calculate the biodiversity of the area, and the calculations on the state of health of a coral reef. However, technology and great advances are not enough. We need to implement an inclusive policy in which local people, especially indigenous people, help in both conservation and restoration processes. They are the first that want (and need) to maintain or recover the lost habitats, but in many cases the policy makers and some stakeholders do not consider them in the equation. We must create those conditions of synergy in which the academic world, the political world and society itself (local and foreign) come together to solve the problems related to the loss of ecosystem services in the oceans.
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Esta publicación fomenta la comprensión de algunos elementos teóricos y conceptuales de las costas, con énfasis en el conocimiento de aspectos tan importantes como el Mar, la evolución y formación de mares y océanos, las costas y zonas costeras, geomorfología costera, clasificación de las costas, procesos costeros, acción de las cuencas hidrográficas en las costas, los ecosistemas costeros, la vegetación y fauna costera, así como la acción de antropización de las costas por el hombre, entre otros temas de interés general. El texto se presenta en cuatro capítulos, el primero contiene unas reflexiones teóricas sobre todo lo relativo a las costas y las zonas costeras en cuanto a los diferentes términos empleados internacionalmente. El segundo capítulo aporta una visión general de los procesos que condicionan la geomorfología costera, con precisiones de las características básicas y los agentes que contribuyen en su formación. En el tercer capítulo se introducen elementos claves sobre los ecosistemas costeros y sus clasificaciones a nivel internacional, con ejemplos que ayudan a identificar las especies vegetales y de fauna características de estas áreas geográficas. Finalmente, el cuarto capítulo se refiere a las maneras que el hombre ha intervenido el espacio costero, las estrategias fundamentales empleadas y las principales medidas de protección costera empleadas en la actualidad. El libro “Las zonas costeras. Sus componentes y procesos naturales” es un documento de aprendizaje y consulta continua. Cada capítulo se complementa con figuras y tablas que ilustran de forma didáctica cada elemento tratado. Se considera como un texto de obligatoria consulta para cualquier universidad o grupo de investigación científica que trabaje en temas de gestión costera. Finalmente es importante señalar que el libro no pretende ser un texto concluyente, solo aporta una introducción lo más clara y convincente posible sobre estos temas, esperando que con el resultado logrado, los lectores aumenten sus conocimientos y la necesaria percepción de la importancia que tienen las costas para el sostenimiento de la vida humana y los ecosistemas costeros.
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Humanity's relationship with the Ocean needs to be transformed to effectively address the multitude of governance crises facing the Ocean, including overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. Earth law, including Rights of Nature, provides a pathway to center humanity as a part of Nature and transform our relationship from one of dominion and separateness towards holism and mutual enhancement. Within the Earth law framework, an Ocean-centered approach views humanity as interconnected with the Ocean, recognizes societies' collective duty and reciprocal responsibility to protect and conserve the Ocean, and puts aside short-term gain to respect and protect future generations of all life and the Ocean's capacity to regenerate and sustain natural cycles. This Essay presents Ocean-centered governance as an approach to help achieve the 10 challenges for collective impact put forward as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and therefore living in a harmonious relationship with the Ocean.
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an essential tool for reversing the global degradation of ocean life. Hence, it is important to know which types of MPAs are more effective, and under which conditions. No-take marine reserves – the MPAs with stronger protection – are very effective in restoring and preserving biodiversity, and in enhancing ecosystem resilience. A new meta-analysis of previous studies shows that bio-mass of whole fish assemblages in marine reserves is, on average, 670% greater than in adjacent unprotected areas, and 343% greater than in partially-protected MPAs. Marine reserves also help restore the complexity of ecosystems through a chain of ecological effects (trophic cascades) once the abundance of large animals recovers sufficiently. Marine reserves may not be immune to the effects of climate change, but to date, reserves with complex ecosystems are more resilient than unprotected areas. Although marine reserves were conceived to protect ecosystems within their boundaries, they have also been shown to enhance local fisheries and create jobs and new incomes through ecotourism.
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a cornerstone of marine conservation. Globally, the number and coverage of MPAs are increasing, but MPA implementation lags in many human-dominated regions. In areas with intense competition for space and resources, evaluation of the effects of MPAs is crucial to inform decisions. In the human-dominated Mediterranean Sea, fully protected areas occupy only 0.04% of its surface. We evaluated the impacts of full and partial protection on biomass and density of fish assemblages, some commercially important fishes, and sea urchins in 24 Mediterranean MPAs. We explored the relationships between the level of protection and MPA size, age, and enforcement. Results revealed significant positive effects of protection for fisheries target species and negative effects for urchins as their predators benefited from protection. Full protection provided stronger effects than partial protection. Benefits of full protection for fish biomass were only correlated with the level of MPA enforcement; fish density was higher in older, better enforced, and —interestingly— smaller MPAs. Our finding that even small, well-enforced, fully protected areas can have significant ecological effects is encouraging for “crowded” marine environments. However, more data are needed to evaluate sufficient MPA sizes for protecting populations of species with varying mobility levels. Marine
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Strong decreases in greenhouse gas emissions are required to meet the reduction trajectory resolved within the 2015 Paris Agreement. However, even these decreases will not avert serious stress and damage to life on Earth, and additional steps are needed to boost the resilience of ecosystems, safeguard their wildlife, and protect their capacity to supply vital goods and services. We discuss how well-managed marine reserves may help marine ecosystems and people adapt to five prominent impacts of climate change: acidification, sea-level rise, intensification of storms, shifts in species distribution, and decreased productivity and oxygen availability, as well as their cumulative effects. We explore the role of managed ecosystems in mitigating climate change by promoting carbon sequestration and storage and by buffering against uncertainty in management, environmental fluctuations, directional change, and extreme events. We highlight both strengths and limitations and conclude that marine reserves are a viable low-tech, cost-effective adaptation strategy that would yield multiple cobenefits from local to global scales, improving the outlook for the environment and people into the future.
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The UN's globally adopted Convention on Biological Diversity coverage target for marine protected areas (MPAs) is ≥10% by 2020. In 2014 the World Parks Congress recommended increasing this to ≥30%. We reviewed 144 studies to assess whether the UN target is adequate to achieve, maximise or optimise six environmental and/or socio-economic objectives. Results consistently indicate that protecting several tens-of-percent of the sea is required to meet goals (average 37%, median 35%, modal group 21–30%), greatly exceeding the 2.18% currently protected and the 10% target. The objectives we examined were met in 3% of studies with ≤10% MPA coverage, 44% with ≤30% coverage and 81% with more than half the sea protected. The UN's 10% target appears insufficient to protect biodiversity, preserve ecosystem services and achieve socio-economic priorities. As MPA coverages generated from theoretical studies inherently depend on scenario(s) considered, our findings do not represent explicit recommendations but rather provide perspective on policy goals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Mature science reveals opportunities for policy progress.
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Detailed guidance on the application of the IUCN protected area categories to marine protected areas NOTE: 2nd EDITION (UPDATED) WAS PUBLISHED IN DEC 2019; see Day et al (2019) on ResearchGate @
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The study and implementation of no-take marine reserves have increased rapidly over the past decade, providing ample data on the biological effects of reserve protection for a wide range of geographic locations and organisms. The plethora of new studies affords the opportunity to re- evaluate previous findings and address formerly unanswered questions with extensive data synthe- ses. Our results show, on average, positive effects of reserve protection on the biomass, numerical density, species richness, and size of organisms within their boundaries which are remarkably simi- lar to those of past syntheses despite a near doubling of data. New analyses indicate that (1) these results do not appear to be an artifact of reserves being sited in better locations; (2) results do not appear to be driven by displaced fishing effort outside of reserves; (3) contrary to often-made asser- tions, reserves have similar if not greater positive effects in temperate settings, at least for reef ecosystems; (4) even small reserves can produce significant biological responses irrespective of lati- tude, although more data are needed to test whether reserve effects scale with reserve size; and (5) effects of reserves vary for different taxonomic groups and for taxa with various characteristics, and not all species increase in response to reserve protection. There is considerable variation in the responses documented across all the reserves in our data set — variability which cannot be entirely explained by which species were studied. We suggest that reserve characteristics and context, par- ticularly the intensity of fishing outside the reserve and inside the reserve before implementation, play key roles in determining the direction and magnitude of the reserve response. However, despite considerable variability, positive responses are far more common than no differences or negative responses, validating the potential for well designed and enforced reserves to serve as globally important conservation and management tools.
The Dogger Bank is a subtidal hill in the North Sea that is a candidate Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive in UK waters. Historical records indicate that the Bank has been subject to human exploitation from before the 16th century but conservation objectives have been developed using recent survey data. This has the potential to significantly underestimate the alteration this ecosystem has experienced, making the Dogger Bank an example of shifting baseline syndrome in protected area management. We compile quantitative and qualitative descriptions from historical records of change in catch rates, fishing effort, price and fish size to show that there have been prolonged declines in abundance of fish on the Bank since the early 19th century. Use of present day data to inform conservation has led to unambitious recovery targets. Historical data, we argue, are an essential input to conservation decision making.
Overexploitation of marine fisheries remains a serious problem worldwide, even for many fisheries that have been intensively managed by coastal nations. Many factors have contributed to these system failures. Here we discuss the implications of persistent, irreducible scientific uncertainty pertaining to marine ecosystems. When combined with typical levels of uncontrollability of catches and incidental mortality, this uncertainty probably implies that traditional approaches to fisheries management will be persistently unsuccessful. We propose the use of large-scale protected areas (marine reserves) as major components of future management programs. Protected areas can serve as a hedge against inevitable management limitations, thus greatly enhancing the long-term sustainable exploitation of fishery resources. Marine reserves would also provide an escape from the need of ever more detailed and expensive stock assessments and would be invaluable in the rehabilitation of depleted stocks.