Marine parks extend over areas of the seas and oceans, subject to full protection. Their value, however, is not limited to natural aspects. It turns out that marine parks, often designated as national parks, can significantly increase fish populations – by as much as 500 percent. This means that their numbers in an area can increase with effective protection and proper management, moreover, it can bring real financial returns.

Marine parks boost GDP, fisheries and tourism

Recent studies have unequivocally confirmed that marine parks located in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Oceania have a huge impact on improving the financial situation of more than 50 areas. The analyses also proved that this method of water conservation contributes to increasing fish populations and minimizing the effects of climate change.

Dr. Mark John Costello of Norway’s Nord University acknowledged:

For too long, marine parks have been overlooked as generators of GDP and jobs (…) Now we can add tourism operators and fishermen to the list of beneficiaries of ocean conservation.

The study found that in 25 countries in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the fishing industry is reaping huge financial profits from the protection of nature reserves. Ras Mohammed National Park on the Red Sea in Egypt was put under the microscope, as well as areas of the UK, Spain and Sweden.

Inadequate protection of the oceans

The researchers focused their study on 51 marine parks where advanced ecosystems allow, limit or prohibit human interference with coral reefs, seaweed forests, mangroves, salt marshes or mud flats. Enric Sala, founder of National Geographic Pristine Seas and author of the famous The Nature of Nature, admits that despite this, the oceans are not safe. According to him, marine national parks could significantly change this situation. Moreover, the expansion of marine parks would have a positive impact on the financial situation of many countries. Enric Sala said:

Outdated misconceptions about the economic impact of marine protected areas are blocking progress on the urgent global environmental goal (…). This study shows that marine national parks benefit both fisheries and tourism, which is the final blow to the argument that conservation is expensive.

Protection of marine parks is a gain for the economy

Examples of the economic benefits of tourism have been demonstrated in 24 countries, including. France, Spain, Italy and New Zealand. Financial gains for fisheries adjacent to protected areas were found in 46 (or 90 percent) marine parks, including increased catches for as many as 76 percent. of them. As it turns out, the parks with the most developed system of protection, i.e., the most developed parks, had the greatest impact on improving the economy. prohibiting human interference with nature.

The primacy of economic benefits was led by coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass ecosystems. Some parks brought in billions of dollars in revenue each year.

Marine parks in the United Arab Emirates

The surveys conducted did not include the United Arab Emirates’ marine parks, although the protected areas cover 12 percent. of the country’s entire maritime surface. It is worth adding that the global average is approx. 7.5 percent. The UAE therefore significantly outperforms other countries in terms of protected marine and ocean areas. The most popular reserves are: Saadiyat Marine National Park with an area of 59 square kilometers. They live in it, among other things. The chinstrap sea turtles, which are threatened with total extinction.

Another area is Marawah Marine, located in Abu Dhabi. It is home to the world’s second-largest population of dugongs. Anchoring, water skiing, fishing, ballast disposal, sewage disposal, in addition to shell and coral collection, are prohibited in both reserves. Permitted activities are mainly scuba diving and snorkeling. Marawah Marine also offers recreational fishing with rod and line.

Does less mean more?

Many people overlook the impact of marine parks on the economy and the fishing and tourism sectors. They condition their belief on the small size and lack of optimal location of marine national parks. Moreover, restricting or banning fishing seems like a real loss to fisheries. However, the whole issue must be looked at holistically. Reduced catches mean an increase in the fish population in an area with the expansion to other areas. It is worth mentioning that the strict restrictions on fishermen do not only apply to marine parks. In some areas, fishery controls are practiced, such as limiting quotas and fishing gear.

Marine park biodiversity is a value to the whole world

Studies conducted have proven that marine reserves are beneficial to the functioning of humanity as a whole. It has been shown that biologically diverse populations and mega-fauna can generate huge profits from tourism, while contributing to stimulating GDP. However, there is a great need to change the management of the fisheries sector from a commercial one to one that includes broader socioeconomic benefits for coastal communities.

As Dr. Costello said:

My research has proven that marine parks that prohibit fishing generate less costs than fisheries management regulations in a protected area.

Moreover, as many as 46 economic benefits were singled out for areas in the immediate vicinity of marine parks. These included increased fish populations, more intensive reproduction, and expansions of aquatic organisms beyond protected waters. Other studies have shown larger sizes of fish and lobsters near parks.

Need to better protect the oceans

Costello and Ballantine found that 76 percent. coastal countries did not even have a single marine reserve, and today they only occupy approx. 3 percent. world ocean. The priority is to implement a strategy that would meet the commitment to fully protect at least 30 percent of the country’s population. ocean habitats by 2030. This goal is supported by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. To achieve the commitments, scientists must promote the use of marine reserves as a strategy to support biodiversity and fisheries management. They should also work with conservation scientists to raise awareness of the potential of marine parks in supporting economic success. Such reserves are the best tactic to reverse the decline in biodiversity and irresponsible fishing, as existing operations are not sustainable.

The future of marine parks

Costello agrees that the research should be published worldwide so that people will see what economic and tourism benefits marine parks can bring. Popularizing knowledge would help increase the number of protected areas. As a result, not only in the UAE, but also in other countries, marine reserves would occupy at least 12 percent. The total area of adjacent waters. By 2030. 30 percent will succeed in achieving the target. oceanic protected areas? Costello and Balantine are positive and believe their research will change the trajectory of thinking about unusual underwater areas.

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