Reinventing residual reserves in the sea: are we favouring ease of establishment over need for protection?

Devillers, Rodolphe, Pressey, Robert L., Grech, Alana, Kittinger, John N., Edgar, Graham J., Ward, Trevor, and Watson, Reg (2015) Reinventing residual reserves in the sea: are we favouring ease of establishment over need for protection? Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems , 25 (4). pp. 480-504.

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Abstract

1. As systems of marine protected areas (MPAs) expand globally, there is a risk that new MPAs will be biased toward places that are remote or unpromising for extractive activities, and hence follow the trend of terrestrial protected areas in being 'residual' to commercial uses. Such locations typically provide little protection to the species and ecosystems that are most exposed to threatening processes.

2. There are strong political motivations to establish residual reserves that minimize costs and conflicts with users of natural resources. These motivations will likely remain in place as long as success continues to be measured in terms of area (km2) protected.

3. The global pattern of MPAs was reviewed and appears to be residual, supported by a rapid growth of large, remote MPAs. The extent to which MPAs in Australia are residual nationally and also regionally within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park was also examined.

4. Nationally, the recently announced Australian Commonwealth marine reserves were found to be strongly residual, making almost no difference to ‘business as usual’ for most ocean uses. Underlying this result was the imperative to minimize costs, but without the spatial constraints of explicit quantitative objectives for representing bioregions or the range of ecological features in highly protected zones.

5. In contrast, the 2004 rezoning of the GBR was exemplary, and the potential for residual protection was limited by applying a systematic set of planning principles, such as representing a minimum percentage of finely subdivided bioregions. Nonetheless, even at this scale, protection was uneven between bioregions. Within-bioregion heterogeneity might have led to no-take zones being established in areas unsuitable for trawling with a risk that species assemblages differ between areas protected and areas left available for trawling.

6. A simple four-step framework of questions for planners and policy makers is proposed to help reverse the emerging residual tendency of MPAs and maximize their effectiveness for conservation. This involves checks on the least-cost approach to establishing MPAs in order to avoid perverse outcomes.

Item ID: 41852
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-0755
Keywords: marine protected area (MPA), systematic conservation planning, conservation priority, biodiversity, extractive activities, fisheries
Additional Information:

© 2014 The Authors. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Funders: Canadian National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), NSERC CHONe network, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:36
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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