One of the cornerstones of improved ocean management – the establishment of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world’s oceans - received a strong endorsement from the representatives from 76 countries at the World Ocean Conference (WOC) in Manado (Indonesia) today.
Four days ahead of the opening of the International Marine Conservation Congress and the International Marine Protected Area Congress in Washington DC, delegates penned a statement on the importance of - and framework for – the creation of such a network.
“These are exciting times for marine protected areas as decision makers at all levels and across the world are now realising how vital they will be in reversing ocean degradation in the face of increasing pressures from climate change, ocean acidification, and intensifying human use” says Kristina Gjerde, IUCN High Seas Policy Advisor. “This political will needs to be matched with proper investment and enforcement though, to really make a difference.”
At the Manado Ocean Conference, a special high-level session aimed at pushing ocean issues up the agenda at the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen in December was convened on 14 May. The Manado Ocean Declaration adopted at this event underscored the necessity of building resilience in the oceans as a key strategy to confronting climate change and the importance of MPAs in helping nations and communities adapt to climate change, bolster the oceans’ productivity and protect vulnerable biodiversity.
The Declaration contains an important political commitment from these high level representatives: “We resolve to further establish and effectively manage marine protected areas, including representative resilient networks, in accordance with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS, and on the basis of the best available science.”
In a special session devoted to MPAs, participants adopted a 15 part statement that crystallizes some of the essential recommendations for MPA planning in confronting climate change and other 21st century threats.
As part of its programme on MPAs, IUCN has been urging governments to massively scale up actions now to put MPAs in place throughout the oceans as part of the solution to the impacts of climate change. This Declaration can provide an important boost for efforts in coastal areas as well as in the more remote open ocean and deep seas.
“Marine Protected Areas remain one of our best tools for restoring ocean life,” says Dan Laffoley, Marine Chair of IUCN’s Word Commission on Protected Areas. “The Manado Conference not just reaffirmed this but confirmed what many people are already thinking, which is that in the face of climate change MPAs are no longer a desirable action but essential.”
Manado Ocean Declaration Paragraph 15:
We resolve to further establish and effectively manage marine protected areas, including representative resilient networks, in accordance with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS, and on the basis of the best available science, recognizing the importance of their contribution to ecosystem goods and services, and to contribute to the effort to conserve biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods and to adapt to climate change.