Why Marine Protected Areas matter?
We live on a blue planet. Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean and this makes up over 99% of living space. Yet only a tiny amount of it is protected, less than 2% compared to over 12% of the land, so vital marine habitats and entire ecosystems are left at risk.
In a world where unsustainable fishing, pollution, mining and tourism threaten marine life around the world, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have an important role to play.
What are MPAs?
MPAs are regions in which human activity is being managed or restricted in order to preserve special marine environments and provide animals with a safe haven.
They may be created to protect areas of high biodiversity such as coral reefs, locations of cultural significance such as shipwrecks or sites that are important to a particular species such as breeding grounds.
What are the benefits?
MPAs are proven to benefit humans, the environment and wildlife in a number of ways:
- They actually help the fishing industry
Though it may seem that banning fishing in areas would have a negative effect on the fishing industry the opposite is true. Giving fish a safe place to live and reproduce gives them time and space to replenish their numbers after fishing. As life within MPAs flourishes it has an overspill effect and dramatically improves fishing in the surrounding waters.
- They help all ecosystems, not just in the oceans
MPAs also have far reaching, knock-on effects on ecosystems on the land. For example, if fish stocks improve then seabird numbers will grow and in turn the land animals that prey on seabirds are also better-off.
- They benefit communities
Well managed MPAs can really benefit communities by improving fishing, creating jobs and potentially bringing more money into the community through eco-tourism.