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The ups and downs of marine protected areas: Examining the evidence

25 / 01 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

In 1962, at the First World Conference of National Parks in Seattle, U.S., Carleton Ray, a marine biologist at the University of Virginia, pleaded the cause of setting aside “unmolested” areas in the sea. “Man is using the sea at a great rate, polluting it, developing its borders,” he said in one of the conference sessions. “If we conservationists and biologists do not think of the planet as one — earth and water — then I ask, who will? If we do not press for marine as well as terrestrial sanctuaries and for regulations over our marine activities, then I ask again, who will?” This plea to begin establishing marine protected areas gained momentum over decades. At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, for instance, countries agreed to maintain marine biodiversity by establishing networks of marine protected areas. Many scientists also began presenting evidence that fishing was causing the world’s fish stocks to collapse: Overfishing was pushing many marine species toward extinction and destroying or altering marine habitats. Creating marine protecting areas, they stressed, was the best approach to addressing this degradation of the marine environment. In 2004, the world’s governments adopted their first tangible international target under the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): They committed to conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2012. But when the coverage remained below 2 percent in 2010, the CBD extended the deadline to 2020. Where there were only about 430 marine protected areas as of 1985, today there are more than…

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