Marine Protected Areas
British Columbia’s marine life is amazingly rich. In fact, most of BC’s overall biodiversity occurs in the ocean.
Yet while more than 13% of BC’s land has protected status, less than 2% of our marine environment is protected! At the same time, many marine species are in steep decline or at risk.
What’s needed is a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the BC coast, to help conserve marine plants and animals and the habitats on which they depend.
provide sanctuaries for threatened species
improve fishing opportunities
aid scientific research
provide outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities
generate increased public awareness of marine life
bring social and economic benefits to coastal communities
MPAs are like an “insurance policy” -- a smart investment to guard against errors in fisheries management or the impacts of environmental changes such as global warming.
Overall size and protection levels within MPAs may vary. It’s important that we create MPAs for every type of marine habitat, since each type supports a different set of fish, shellfish, birds and other species.
At the very least, oil, gas and mineral exploration and development, dredging, dumping, bottom trawling and open netcage fish farming should be prohibited in every MPA.
Beyond this, MPAs should include a “no-take” zone (closed to fishing or other harvesting), to allow fish and other animals to grow to maturity and reproduce. From studying existing MPAs worldwide, scientists have learned that no-take zones help to increases species diversity, sizes and populations -- both inside and outside the no-take zone.
Humans have caused a great deal of damage to our world's oceans. But fortunately, along with the ability to cause harm, we have the ability to heal. Creating a network of MPAs could buy us the time we need to learn to properly safeguard our amazing marine resources.
- Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area
- Rockfish Conservation Areas
- Orca Pass International Stewardship Area
- Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
- Best Practice for MPA Networks (IUCN - World Commission on Protected Areas)
Establishing networks of marine protected areas: A guide for developing national and regional capacity for building MPA networks. Non-technical summary report (WCPA/IUCN, 2007)
Marine Protected Areas of the U.S. (National MPA Center)
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