Protecting the oceans through marine protected areas can provide higher and more sustained income through tourism and controlled fisheries than continued exploitation. This is the result of IUCN’s new compilation of case studies about the economic benefits of marine protected areas, launched on World Biodiversity Day at the 2nd International Marine Protected Area Congress.

“Marine protected areas, if well managed, help fish stocks replenish, which then increase yields in neighbouring areas and improve the economic situation of the local communities” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.

Marine protected areas also attract tourism, which is the other important source of income through marine conservation.

Since all fishing has been banned in the British Lundy Island No Take Zone, a small four square km marine protected area set up in the Bristol Channel in 2003, tourism has picked up significantly: the business of the area’s tour operator, for example, has doubled since 2003. The fishing industry also benefits from the Lundy No Take Zone: lobsters have become more abundant and grown in average size, within and outside the protected zone, which is expected to replenish fish stocks in the area and increase fisheries yields. (You can read the Lundy Island case study here.)

Less than one percent of the world’s oceans are currently protected, compared to about 12 percent of the land surface. Governments agreed under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to increase protection of the oceans to 10 percent by 2010.

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and non-government member organisations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.

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