World Parks Congress – Day 5

The session I listened to today dealt with ‘marine protected areas as tools for food security’. The IUCN, its partner organisations and many conservation groups have been arguing for an expansion in the size of marine protected areas.

“Currently, only 3% of the world’s oceans are designated as marine sanctuaries”

However, achieving harmony between conservation goals and livelihood goals is incredibly difficult. This is highlighted in areas where marine sanctuaries and other protected areas are implemented as ‘no take’ zone.

‘No take’ zones may allow for fish and other marine species to repopulate and grow more resilient and diverse. However, by declaring an area as a ‘no take’ zone may undermine the ability for local communities to achieve food security. Further, by preventing access to local communities, income may also be lost, and thus, the poverty cycle is perpetuated.

Perhaps the most effective marine parks are those that might prohibit fishing at large commercial (and often destructive scales), while allowing small scale fishing for livelihoods to continue.

Indeed, one of the key messages from the World Parks Congress has been that indigenous people and locals are often the best conservationists. For protected areas to function, the distribution of benefits from protected areas much be equitably distributed among all stakeholders.

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