Preserving Reef Connectivity: a Handbook for Marine Protected Area Managers
Sale, P.F., Van Lavieren, H., Ablan Lagman, M.C., Atema, J., Butler, M., Fauvelot, C., Hogan, J.D., Jones, G.P., Lindeman, K.C., Paris, C.B., Steneck, R., and Stewart, H.L. (2010) Preserving Reef Connectivity: a Handbook for Marine Protected Area Managers. Report. Coral Reef Targeted Research &Capacity Building for Management Project (CRTR).
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The decline of the coastal ocean and why this handbook exists:
The coastal ocean environment provides enormous value in fishery and other products, as well as ecosystem services like coastal protection, water purification, and locations for ports, harbors, urban centers, tourist destinations, and numerous recreational pursuits. Coastal environments can also cleanse the soul, stimulate the mind, and restore the body. But 40% of all people live within 50 km of a coast, and our enthusiasm for coastal living is creating ever more environmental damage.
Unfortunately, current management practices in most coastal regions are ineffective, and to continue them will endanger the coastal economies and ecosystems that support over one half of the world’s population. The trend for coastal ocean ecosystems over recent decades has been one of progressive decline in the face of growing human population, rising demand for coastal resources, and increasing use of the coastal environment. Today, climate change is adding to the pressures on the coastal environment, further stressing ecosystems there.
The decline of coastal environments has become a particularly significant problem for many tropical countries with coral reefs. In these areas, reefs often contribute to the major component of GDP because of their importance to tourism and fisheries. They also provide an important protein food source and help support a traditional way of life for coastal peoples.
This handbook tackles one specific concern when contemplating effective management of coastal marine environments – the issue of connectivity. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become an important management tool, particularly in tropical regions, and connectivity is an important consideration in the effective design of MPAs and MPA networks. Connectivity issues are also involved in most other aspects of coastal management for two reasons: first, water moves and transports items such as sediments, nutrients and pollutants considerable distances; and second, most marine organisms also move within the water stream, transporting themselves between places. Our goal is to assist MPA managers and others in understanding and applying the concept of connectivity in their work. In this way, we hope to help managers strengthen their ability to tackle the challenging task of sustaining coastal marine environments. This would help protect fisheries and other goods and services they provide.