Marine protected areas often expensive and misplaced

June 28, 2018, University of Queensland
Humpback Whale. Credit: Christopher Michel

Many marine protected areas are often unnecessarily expensive and located in the wrong places, an international study has shown.

The University of Queensland was part of research which found protected areas missed many unique ecosystems, and have a greater impact on fisheries than necessary.

A collaboration with the University of Hamburg, Wildlife Conservation Society and The Nature Conservancy assessed the efficiency of marine protected areas, which now cover 16 per cent of national waters around the world.

UQ's School of Biological Sciences researcher Professor Hugh Possingham said international marine preservation targets are falling short.

"International conservation targets such as the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals call for protection of at least 10 per cent of all the world's oceans and all marine ecosystems," he said.

"Despite a tenfold increase in marine protected areas since the year 2000—a growth of 21 million square kilometres—half of all still fall short of the target, with 10 ecosystems entirely unprotected."

The researchers assessed whether the expansion had been cost efficient—measuring potential earnings lost from fisheries—and effectively focused.

Kelp forest. Credit: Oliver Dodd

The University of Hamburg's Dr. Kerstin Jantke, who led the research, said that marine protected could have been far more efficient with greater planning.

"With a more strategic approach at the inception of global conservation targets in 1982, the network could be a third smaller, cost half as much, and meet international targets by protecting 10 per cent of every ecosystem," she said.

"It is clearly in the interests of nations to start strategic planning as early as possible to avoid costly imbalanced reserve systems."

Nations will negotiate new conservation targets for 2020-2030 at a United Nations meeting next year in China.

"We urge governments to take note and be tactical from the outset, delivering better outcomes for nature , but also saving them a lot of money," Professor Possingham said.

The study has been published in Conservation Letters.

Explore further: Australia to open more marine parks to commercial fishing

More information: Kerstin Jantke et al, Poor ecological representation by an expensive reserve system: Evaluating 35 years of marine protected area expansion, Conservation Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1111/conl.12584

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers isolate parvovirus from ancient human remains

July 13, 2018

Airborne and bloodborne human parvovirus B19 causes a number of illnesses, including the childhood rash known as fifth disease, chronic anemia in AIDS patients, arthritis in elderly people, aplastic crisis in people with ...

Finding the proteins that unpack DNA

July 12, 2018

A new method allows researchers to systematically identify specialized proteins that unpack DNA inside the nucleus of a cell, making the usually dense DNA more accessible for gene expression and other functions. The method, ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

julianpenrod
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2018
A distressing state of affairs few see.
So many, self destructively assume that certain groups, like those allied to the Democratic Rackets, are necessarily working only for the good of man and nature. The Democratic Rackets are just as much a swindle to try to control the resources of the country only to make the rich richer as the Republican Party. Democratic Racketeers do it differently, though. Laws and regulations aren't intended to improve the environment, but, rather, to try to hamstring Republican industries, like coal, oil, mining. In the same way, areas "protected" to "save the environment" are really decided on to prevent Republican industries acting there. The parcelling off of oceanic regions for "protection" demonstrated here suggests an initiative to impact the fishing industry, with companies being required to pay for the right to fish in certain areas.
barakn
not rated yet Jun 30, 2018
If you live in a world where everyone's out to get you, you might just be paranoid.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.