Locally-Run Protected Areas Could Reverse Fisheries’ Death Spiral


Great Barracuda and Jacks, Diamond Rock, Saba,...
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One third of all species of sharks, rays and reef-building corals are facing extinction while governments spend $27 billion subsidizing overfishing

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2010 (IPS)

Local fishers objected to the creation of a new no-fishing marine protected area off the coast of Belize in 1996. Today they are benefiting from the bounty of fish spilling out of the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Tourism has also boomed, illustrating the multiple benefits and value of marine protected areas, according to a new series of reports released Wednesday by Conservation International (CI).

“The ocean is in crisis but we can’t see it with our own eyes so we’re not aware of what is happening,” said Leah Bunce Karrer, co-author and director of the Marine Management Area Science Programme at CI.

“Marine managed areas offer a solution which could significantly reduce ocean degradation while benefiting local communities,” Karrer told IPS.

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One third of all species of sharks, rays and reef-building corals are facing extinction. “Most people don’t realise that,” said Gregory Stone, chief ocean scientist at CI.

“As species disappear, entire ecosystems are altered in negative ways we don’t even want to imagine,” Stone said.

Only a fraction of one percent of the world’s oceans are effectively protected even though there is growing scientific consensus of the need to protect at least 20 percent of the seas. Continue reading