Friday, October 29, 2010

Creating a Network of Marine Reserves

One of the major issues facing the UN convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD) is the creation of an effective global network of marine reserves. As ASOC colleague Richard Page reported from the recent UNCBD meeting in Japan, while progress is being made in this arena it may not be fast enough to meet the convention’s 2012 deadline.

It is difficult to stress how important this network of marine reserves, or Marine Protected Areas (MPA), is. When the UNCBD comes to an agreement it will be a network of hot spots of great biodiversity, which serve as breeding ground for some of our oceans’ most important creatures and also as precious habitat for many juvenile fishes. The greatest worry is that these biological hot spots are faced with decimation due largely to overfishing. When a bottom trawl, as wide as half the length of a football field, scrapes the sea bottom in these areas, picking up or destroying everything in its path, that area remains scarred and barren of life. Thus it is most important that we stress that the UNCBD push forward and make significant progress in the coming weeks and beyond.

In order to preserve these precious ecosystems, including Antarctica’s Ross Sea, which still remains largely untouched, it is absolutely necessary that such international bodies significantly restrict where destructive fishing practices and other marine industries may be carried out. Beyond the UNCBD it will be interesting to see what progress the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) delegates will make with this issue during their ongoing talks in Hobart, this week and next.

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