Ocean MPAs to become more inclusive for all stakeholders


by Roger Gilbert, Publisher, International Aquafeed


Launched in 2010 on the initiative of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the MBI is a platform for discussion that is co-organised by the Oceanographic Institute, the Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Its members meet annually to discuss current and future challenges of ocean management and conservation.

The 10th meeting clarified the ambition and method necessary for setting the scene for the post-2020 period, when current global MPA targets are set to be achieved.

The 10th edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI) convened to discuss the importance of ecological and social networks for ensuring the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as well as their links with the wider economy of the ocean on Monday, 25th March, 2019 at the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco.

The three-session event with keynote presentations, gathered more than 140 participants representing international organisations, governments, academia, NGOs and the private sector. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the meeting, stating that the MBI helped put MPAs on the international agenda. He stressed the role of MPAs as an effective tool against the threats facing the ocean, as well as their economic benefits.

He highlighted that challenges ahead include the need to reinforce existing MPAs and to increase both their and network. He warned that vague MPA categories could lead to confusion and called for precise goals and a global vision for implementing new MPAs.

Finally, he underlined the importance of involving all stakeholders in assessing different options for MPAs.

Session 1: How to collectively continue developing MPAs whilst ensuring their efficiency

Chaired by Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University, her panel brought together: Romain Renoux, Association for the Sustainable Financing of Mediterranean MPAs; François Houllier, CEO, Institutfrançais de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Ifremer); Mark J Spalding, President, the Ocean Foundation, and Ricardo Serrão Santos, Member of the European Parliament (in absentia).

DrLubchenco introduced the key issues of: MPA definitions and objectives; progress, challenges and ambitions; MPAs and economic development, and MPAs in the wider context of the sustainable use of biodiversity.

She stressed the need to address three specific questions on MPAs: What can be considered an MPA; when can an MPA be considered a true protected area; what are the different levels of protection for MPAs? She highlighted that a coalition of governmental and NGO partners will soon release an MPA guide that will help harmonise the language used to describe MPA stages of establishment and levels of protection to inform work on the post-2020 agenda of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Point made by –

Serrão Santos (words in absentia and transmitted by DrLubchenco) said there is nothing worse than inefficient MPAs or 'paper parks' to discredit MPAs. He stressed the problem is not that the targets are too ambitious in terms of area coverage, but rather bad implementation of these targets.

Romain Renoux focused on the Mediterranean, of which seven percent of the area is covered by MPAs but less than 0.05 percent by MPAs with strong protection (no-go MPAs). He stressed the problem of insufficient and sporadic funding for ensuring effective management of these MPAs, with only 12 percent of the financial needs covered for the region.

François Houllier highlighted the lack of scientific knowledge for marine conservation and stressed the specificities of MPAs regarding species connectivity and the absence of strict boundaries in the ocean. He highlighted the role of research institutes for filling knowledge gaps and for supporting public policy by demonstrating the benefits of establishing MPAs.

Mark Spalding recalled that MPAs are tools to manage human activities. The goal is to decrease anthropogenic pressures in order to maintain life in MPAs. He reflected on the success of the previous 10 years and stressed that MPAs require political will. He then highlighted that the ocean is the common heritage of all humankind, and that this should be reflected in the negotiations on the protection of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Session 2: How do coherent MPA networks contribute to protecting species?

This session was chaired by Alexander Tudhope, Professor, University of Edinburgh. His panellists included: Rachel Graham, CEO, MarAlliance; Haydee Rodríguez, Vice Minister of Waters and Seas, Costa Rica; Serge Planes, Research Director, National Centre for Scientific Research, France; Olivier Laroussinie, Deputy Delegate to the Sea and Coastline, Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France and Purificacio Canals, President, Mediterranean Network of Marine Protected Areas (MedPAN).

Professor Tudhope said essential elements for successful MPA networks are recognition of diverse life histories and ecological connectivity's, as well as explicit support for MPA managers and other key stakeholders to form communities of practice and sharing.

Point made by -

Rachel Graham said what galvanised the creation of MPAs was the protection of species, but that data was missing on these species and the way forward is to rely on and empower local and traditional communities. She highlighted that community-driven MPAs are the most successful, due the high level of compliance.

Haydee Rodríguez presented the specificities of Costa Rica in terms of biodiversity protection, stressing that what has been done on land should now be done at sea while Serge Planes stressed the recurrent oppositions between local and national interests in MPAs, and the importance of building networks of communities inside and outside.

Olivier Laroussinie discussed how to link national MPAs to larger ecological networks when these networks cross different jurisdictions. He stressed that some tools already exist and that more coherence is required between them. Purificacio Canals talked about the importance of having networks of managers to improve the effectiveness of MPAs, stressing that actions must be based on scientific and traditional knowledge, as well as on social skills.

Session 3: What is the next step after the evaluation of ecosystem services?

Maria Damanaki, Global Managing Director, The Ocean Conservancy, chaired this session. The panel included: Peter Herzig, Director, GEOMAR; Olivia Langmead, Plymouth University; Mia Pantzar, Institute for European Environmental Policy; Vincent Meriton, Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles; and Abdou Karim Sall, President, MPA; JoalFadiouth, Senegal.

MsDamanaki introduced the session by stressing that if ambitious goals for MPA implementation requires financing and that the private sector must be at the table. She called for the creation of a 'coalition of actors' for financing MPAs.

Points made by -

Peter Herzig called for: half the oceans to be covered by MPAs by 2050; making the Southern Ocean and the High Seas an MPA; strong protection, that is 'no take, no change, no impact'; more solution-oriented research and internationally binding rules. He also questioned why there was a European Space Agency but no European Ocean Agency, and an International Seabed Authority but no International Ocean Authority.

Olivia Langmead said one of the main limitations being the availability and quality of data on how species and habitats support the delivery of ecosystem services. Her modelling approach explores the linkages between seabed habitats and their potential to provide ecosystem services.

Mia Pantzar talked about growing evidence of tangible economic benefits from MPAs in Europe, in terms of income and new jobs. However, she highlighted the lack of robust empirical evidence with most of the numbers being extrapolations from models.

Vincent Meriton said the Seychelles' blue economy was built on four pillars: food and nutrition; economic diversification; maritime safety and security, and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems.

He presented the Seychelles' Marine Spatial Plan, a government-led, multi-stakeholder process. According to the Plan, 15 percent of Seychelles waters will be under strong MPAs, 15 percent under a sustainable use regime and 70 percent for multiple uses. He explained that this Plan was part of his country's Blue Economy Roadmap, and the result of a debt swap mechanism that allows the financing of MPAs through a trust fund.

Abdou Karim Sall presented the MPA JoalFadiouth in Senegal, which is based on a shared governance mechanism between government and local communities, with the objectives of improving both biodiversity, conservation and the socio-economic conditions of local communities.

Closing notes

François Simard concluded the meeting by stressing that for MPAs to be effectively and equitably managed, more work needs to be done on: partnerships, connectivity aspects and MPAs' integration into the wider seascape and blue economy. He highlighted the emerging discussion about including in the negotiations on the High Seas the concept of common public goods as this new UN treaty is of concern for all of humankind.

Points from Keynote Addresses

BrunePoirson, French Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, highlighted the need for more ambition for the ocean. She stressed that the ocean is currently seen as a lever of economic opportunity, but that sustainability and MPAs should be at the heart of the discussion. She also underlined the issue of financing for biodiversity protection, insisting that the money should come from those who harm biodiversity

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, highlighted the EU's MPA network, which is equivalent in size to Spain, but noted significant differences in coverage and implementation across regions. He stressed that well-managed MPAs benefit the economy and highlighted the work of the EU to help create MPAs in Africa and the Caribbean and train MPA managers

ChuanlinHuo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Marine Ecology and Environment, Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said China promotes 'a community of shared destiny' based on its experience in fighting pollution. He outlined China's progress on MPAs including: expansion of the network; an MPAs roadmap in several provinces; improvement of the legal system for MPAs; establishment of marine monitoring stations for long-term research and action at international level

José Apolinario, Portuguese Secretary of State for Fisheries, underlined his country's efforts to lead the race on MPAs in Europe and announced that the Second UN Ocean Conference will be held in Lisbon in June 2020. He also stressed the creation of a coalition of Portuguese stakeholders that brings knowledge and expertise upon which to design new MPAs.

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