Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) safeguard our marine life, increase fish stocks, capture carbon, and help regulate the health of our coastal environments. They also support local economies through tourism and sustainable fishing in surrounding waters.
One of the main problems our MPAs face is many people are unaware they exist, or how they work. Unlike terrestrial reserves, Marine Parks and Aquatic Reserves are broken into different zones, with very significant differences in the level of protection within each zone. Only sanctuary zones, where fishing and removal of fauna or habitats is prohibited, equate closely with the more familiar terrestrial reserves such as national parks or nature reserves.
We are calling for a system for protecting our marine environments that adheres to CAR and the precautionary principles (CAR is an acronym for Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative). A system of MPAs that meets CAR principles is needed to properly protect biodiversity, scientific, recreational and environmental values in the marine environment.
- Comprehensive: MPAs should include the full range of ecosystems recognised at an appropriate scale within and across each bioregion.
- Adequate: There should be a level of reservation to ensure the ecological viability and integrity of populations, species and communities.
- Representative: areas selected for inclusion in MPAs should reasonably reflect the biotic diversity of the marine ecosystems from which they derive.
A network of CAR marine protected areas now will provide immediate benefits for coastal communities and a lasting legacy for future generations.