Marine protected areas in southern China: upgrading conservation effectiveness in the 'eco-civilization' era

McCook, Laurence J., Lian, Jiansheng, Lei, Xinming, Chen, Zhu, Xue, Guifang, Ang, Put, Zhang, Xiong, and Huang, Hui (2019) Marine protected areas in southern China: upgrading conservation effectiveness in the 'eco-civilization' era. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems, 29 (S2). pp. 33-43.

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China has undergone massive economic development over the last several decades, but at the cost of serious environmental degradation, including to coastal and marine ecosystems. This paper describes the governance arrangements for management of coastal and marine areas of southern, mainland China and Hong Kong, especially marine protected areas (MPAs). Although not widely recognized internationally, there are 123 designated MPAs spread across the South China Sea coast. However, the effectiveness of these MPAs in conservation of ecosystem goods and services is seriously limited by a familiar range of pressures, including limited resources, insufficient enforcement and massive coastal development. Recent developments in national policy include integration of all protected areas (including marine) under a single agency, a range of limits on coastal development and water pollution, and the strategy of 'eco-civilization' to balance environmental management with economic development. If successfully implemented, these policies would profoundly change the course of marine environments in China, with globally significant consequences. Recommendations for improving MPA performance in China include: ensuring that marine systems are not overwhelmed within the new national jurisdiction, and maintaining and enhancing marine capacity; increased resourcing, supported by comprehensive and systematic economic valuations of ecosystem goods and services and natural capital; upgraded enforcement of existing environmental laws and regulations, combined with further refinement and development, especially around cumulative impact management; a particular focus on major reduction in water pollution in all forms; integration of marine management between Hong Kong SAR and surrounding Guangdong Province; and enhanced community engagement, participation and education. Finally, much greater, collaborative engagement by the international community with Chinese marine management and conservation would bring major, and very mutual, benefits.

Item ID: 60924
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-0755
Keywords: coastal, ocean, conservation evaluation, marine protected area, urban development, sedimentation, pollution
Copyright Information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Additional Information:

This article is available Open Access via the publisher's website.

Funders: Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Australian Research Council (ARC), Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: CAS Grant number: 2016VEA025, ARC Grant number: CE140100020
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 07:31
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 100%
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