Gabon Marine Protected Area Network

Gabon Marine Protected Area Network

Case Study by Austin Dever The Central African nation of Gabon is renowned for its pristine forests teeming with wildlife and protected by one of the finest national park systems in the region. Established in 2002, the nation’s thirteen national parks cover more than ten percent of Gabon’s total land area and provide sanctuary to the world’s largest remaining population of forest elephants, as well as gorillas, chimpanzees, mandrills, and numerous other species.            But far less known, and equally important, is Gabon’s efforts to protect the biodiversity of its oceans and coastline. In a November 2014 speech before the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network covering more than 46,000 square kilometers, or 23 percent, of his country’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  Prior to the announcement, less than one percent of Gabon’s territorial waters had been designated for protection. President Bongo noted his nation’s extraordinary commitment would bring Gabon “near the 20 to 30 percent Member Login Username: Password: that marine biologists tell us is needed to maintain biodiversity and restore depleted areas outside parks.” Gabon’s ocean territory, part of the Congo Basin – Gulf of Guinea Seascape, is one of the world’s most fertile marine ecosystems. Mayumba National Park on Gabon’s southwest coast is home to beach-loving herds of forests elephants and buffalo. Farther north at Loango National Park, hippos ride the sea swell. The coast also shelters the world’s largest nesting population of leatherback sea turtles and the Atlantic Ocean’s largest...
Scotland Marine Protected Area

Scotland Marine Protected Area

Case Study by: Mike Eklund When one thinks of Scotland, one typically thinks of the beautifully preserved landscape that makes the country so unique.  In addition to the conservation efforts on its soil, Scotland has been at the forefront of marine conservation ever since the implementation of the Marine (Scotland) Act of 2010 passed by the Scottish Parliament.  The bill provides a framework that helps balance competing demands for Scotland’s seas by introducing a duty to help protect and maintain the environment. The Act is comprehensive, effectively applying some form of protection to 100% of waters around Scotland. In addition, because Scotland’s territorial waters constitute 60% of the sea area of the United Kingdom (UK) (therefore representing a significant proportion of European Union (EU) maritime territory), this is an excellent example of Nature Needs Half applied to near-and off-shore marine areas – and likely one of the most comprehensive of any single jurisdiction in the northern hemisphere. © Government of Scotland The maritime area is to be protected through a three-pillar approach:  Pillar 1 involves the conservation of local wildlife protected under Annex IV and V of the EU habitats Directive (this includes all species of cetaceans as well as turtles and some fish).  Pillar 2 involves site protection and the designation of protected areas within the maritime territory.  Lastly, Pillar 3 involves the implementation of environmental protection measures for sectors such as sea fisheries and other industries that heavily rely on the sea. Scottish Coastline © Scott Hoiland The Marine (Scotland) Act provides measures to boost economic investment in areas such as marine renewables.  The main measures of...
Island Nations of the South Pacific

Island Nations of the South Pacific

Case Study by: Austin Perez     Some of the world’s smallest nations have collaborated in developing an extraordinary ocean conservation policy that has led to the establishment of the largest Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) ever created. The Pacific Oceanscape was an agreement endorsed by 15 Pacific island nations in 2009 that established a commitment towards aiming to protect 40 million square kilometers of the ocean ecosystems of the South Pacific. The tiny country of Kiribati was the first island nation to make a major addition to the Pacific Oceanscape by establishing the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in 2008, which protects about 400,000 km2 of the southern Pacific Ocean. In 2011, The Cook Islands followed suit by announcing that it will protect nearly 1.1 million km2 of its marine ecosystem by establishing a protected national marine park; and in 2012, New Caledonia proclaimed that it has created the largest Marine Protected Area in the world by establishing a protected area that will cover approximately 1.4 million km2. The Pacific Oceanscape agreement set forth an extremely ambitious goal to protect approximately 10% of the world’s ocean area, and Kiribati, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia have become leaders in turning the vision of the Pacific Oceanscape into a reality. By endorsing the goals and vision of the Pacific Oceanscape, the island nations of the South Pacific have demonstrated a spectacular commitment to marine conservation and to the establishment of conservation policies that will help defend the incredible reef ecosystems and marine biodiversity of the southern Pacific Ocean. By establishing the world’s largest region of Marine Protected Areas and striving to...
Protection of the Seas and Oceans

Protection of the Seas and Oceans

Nature Needs Half is as much about waters and oceans as it is about land. Mounting issues and challenges with the earth’s marine areas and resources make it ever more important that we have the right vision and call for action that is achievable, and with standards that foster true ecosystem resilience. This is confirmed by many authoritative studies, and recently the International Programme on the State of the Oceans (IPSO) issued a report that clarified in no uncertain terms that multiple stresses on marine environments are converging, and action is needed. Protection of seascapes and critical marine areas has always lagged considerably behind terrestrial conservation efforts. A major reason is that most of the oceans are beyond any country’s jurisdiction and have traditionally formed part of the global commons – no one owns them. Their issues are harder to grasp, too, simply because they are remote, with relatively little human interaction. As a result, it is difficult to reverse the persistent perception that oceans are an infinite resource. Research is also vastly more expensive in marine environments than on land, which complicates the process of acquiring the data necessary for decision making. It is clear, though, that providing strong protections for marine environments is effective. Creating a marine reserve, in essence a “no-take” zone in most countries, provides immediate benefits by protecting habitat, while also allowing fisheries to rebuild, often quite rapidly. Marine reserves consistently have higher diversity, more individuals within species as well as larger individuals than areas outside the reserve, and they can also have a beneficial spillover effect, increasing fish stocks at the margins of...