Friday, April 13, 2007

Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) Not Growing Fast Enough

Erik Stokstad wrote in today’s Science NOW Daily News that we are not preserving marine biodiversity fast enough. According to Stokstad, Scientists meeting at the World Conservation Union (IUCN) believe we need to accelerate the creation of marine protected areas if we want to preserve marine biodiversity and move towards more sustainable modes of development.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the signatories of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed that: 10% of the offshore regions controlled by individual countries (economic exclusive zones) and 20% of the world’s oceans would be protected by 2010. But Louisa Wood, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, has found that the total protected area would have to double every year for the next three years to meet that goal.

That rate of growth is unlikely given that it has been increasing by only 5% per year over the past 20 years. Stokstad reported:
“At the current rate, it would take until 2045 to designate enough reserves to meet the CBD goal, and until 2074 to meet the target for sustainable development. However, because marine species are being so rapidly depleted, there isn't really that much time, noted oceanographer Sylvia Earle. ‘If we don't do something now, we will forever lose the chance.’ Dan Laffoley of the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, which helped fund the database, said of the analysis: ‘It brings it home when you see it like this. We're way off target.’” 
My questions:

  • What is a Marine Protected Area? 
  •  Are there different kinds or degrees of protection? 
  • What kinds of oversight are there, ensuring that countries are actually enforcing the legal protections they are enacting? 
  • How do we know that the right areas are being protected? 
  • How do we know that it will be enough? 
  • What are the actual obstacles to accelerating the rate of adding protected areas?

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