ARTICLES RAISE CAUTION ABOUT MPAs


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Posted by Chris on July 16, 2003 at 20:27:22:

8:02/07. ARTICLES RAISE CAUTION ABOUT MPAs: Scientists
should be much more cautious and systematic about the issue of marine
protected areas (MPAs) and their implementation, and avoid thinking
about them as simplistic solutions for complex problems that may be
better solved in other ways, say the authors of "Dangerous targets?
Unresolved issues and ideological clashes around marine protected
areas," in the upcoming book titled Aquatic Conservation: Marine and
Freshwater Ecosystems (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.). The authors, some
of the world's foremost marine scientists, note that blanket advocacy of
marine protected areas, often based on unsubstantiated claims or
percentage targets, not only unnecessarily polarizes the debate, but sets
up a rush to implementation before their design and impact has been
fully thought out. They also note that honest differences of opinion on
MPAs are emerging even among scientists that cannot be reconciled
from an inflexible or advocacy viewpoint, but only from science-based,
systematic monitoring over time. For a copy of the article go to:
http://www.elpnet.org/Agardyetal2003.pdf.

In a short article that appears in the July issue of Fisheries (Vol. 28,
No.7, p. 35), authors Omar Defeo and Roberto Perez-Castaneda discuss
the case of Mexico in their article, "Misuse of Marine Protected Areas
for fisheries management." They write, the "implementation of MPAs in
Mexico has become a conventional response by conservationists,
especially for some ecosystems (e.g., coral reefs) and charismatic species
(e.g., marine turtles, manatees, flamingos). The implementation of
hybrid reserves (i.e., marine and terrestrial components) constitutes an
erroneous starting point, because of marked differences between marine
and terrestrial ecosystems, including the dynamics of populations,
intrinsic characteristics of the habitats, and the unique feature of the
fishing process. Between-ecosystem differences imply that specific and
distinctive criteria should be used for designing MPAs. Furthermore,
management agencies with different levels of involvement in developing
reserves (1) rarely considered ecological and fisheries data, and (2)
adopted management measures which frequently overlap or are in
contradiction among each other because of a clear lack of collaborative,
multidisciplinary plans. Consequently, MPAs in Mexico have failed to
fulfill management and conservation objectives because of weaknesses
of the initial objectives, design, and level of enforcement." For more:
www.fisheries.org.

Many of the same concerns, including more careful definition of
terms, biologically driven criteria for design, clearly identified purposes,
comprehensive monitoring and adaptive management, are part of
PCFFA's Policy Statement on marine protected areas, available on the
web at: http://www.pcffa.org/mpa3.htm. See also the February 1999
issue of Fishermen's News, "Marine Reserves: Friend or Foe?" at:
http://www.pcffa.org/fn-feb99.htm.



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