In the last decade there has been rapid expansion in the area of ocean designated as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Despite this progress, marine biodiversity continues to decline, placing at risk the health of our oceans and the critical role the oceans have in supporting human well-being.
Now a team of marine scientists from across the UK, led by the Marine Conservation Research Group at the University of Plymouth, have called on the Government to increase its ambition to save the oceans by overhauling its approach to marine conservation management.
The researchers have worked at the sharp end of conservation and fisheries management for several decades, and draw on their research and wider expertise to make four key recommendations to government ministers. They are:
- Enable the repair and renewal of marine habitats rather than managing degraded or altered habitats in their reduced state.
- Unite conservation policy and fisheries management as the two are critically dependent on each other rather than competing interests.
- Establish improved processes for understanding the benefits from ocean protection in a format that leaves in no doubt the links between ocean protection and human lives and livelihoods.
- Develop a smarter approach to managing the health of the entire ocean that moves beyond MPAs and enables links to be made across sectors towards sustainability.
The recommendations are published in the journal Marine Policy, and scientists say addressing these issues would enable the UK it to meet its target of becoming a global leader in fisheries management and marine conservation.