Marine Protected Areas
So how do we make sure we protect the ocean for future generations?
One way is to create Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), a simple, yet effective way of reducing or stopping destructive fishing activities and allowing marine ecosystems to recover. The level of protection can vary, from stopping certain fishing methods, to fully protected “no take” zones where nothing can be taken and only certain recreational activities can happen.
Given enough time, life within the ecosystem will begin to recover and eventually fish and other marine animals will spill out over the boundary of the MPA allowing local fishermen to reap the rewards of a good, yet sustainable catch.
In 2010 the territorial waters around the Chagos Archipelago, totalling 640,000km2 , were declared an MPA, making it the world’s largest no-take zone! (see map on page 5). An area of ocean more than twice the size of the UK is now protected from all destructive activities and a refuge for all marine life including corals, fish, sharks, turtles, dolphins and seabirds has been created.
Currently MPAs are lagging behind with only 3.4% of the oceans under some level of protection versus 14% of land! However, things are changing! In 2015 the UK Government announced their intention to make the waters around the Pitcairn Islands (a UK overseas territory in the Pacific) a MPA.