A marine protected area is an area of sea where makes contribution to the protection of biological diversity and related resources. Generally, marine parks and nature reserves can be considered as marine protected areas. Nowadays, there is an international trend that more and more people pay attention to the management and benefits of marine protected areas. In addition, governments together with some non government organizations are making effort to prevent these areas from damage since MPAs help to provide good opportunities for education and scientific research, maintain viable fisheries and protect ecosystems.
This essay aims to introduce the role of marine protected areas in fisheries management controversially and provide personal judgment in the last section. The essay will consist of an introduction, marine protected area benefits, marine protected areas and fisheries management, opinion on role and relevance of marine protected areas and reference.
Marine protected area benefits
MPA plays an important role in protecting biological diversity, science, education and tourism. In this section, more details about the benefits on biodiversity and tourism will be provided.
As to biodiversity, MPAs can help to offer critical sites for species to grow and reproduce. For example, some MPAs are established as "no-take" areas, where fishing or harvesting is not allowed. In this way, many species will be protected from loss, especially some rare ones. In addition, MPAs will provide sites with little human impact for marine species. In these protected areas, species will be able to reproduce and recover from the stress caused by pollution, fishing or changing climate.
As to tourism, MPAs provide a good opportunity for visitors to appreciate marine life and natural scenery. Being different from other place, MPAs have little pollution and less inappropriate development. This factor gives MPAs an advantage over other tourist destination. People having interests in ecotourism will be attracted to these sites, which is considered as a major source of income in the protected area. For example, the Great Barrier Reef gains more than $1 billion annually in travel industry. The profits will lead to better management of MPAs and improved quality of environment, which produces a positive cycle ultimately.
Marine protected areas and fisheries management
As a complex issue, MPAs make it difficult to meet the common interests of a variety of marine users. Although MPAs provide many benefits mentioned above, commercial and recreational fisheries have different views on the protected areas. They hold a point of view that MPAs will have a negative impact on fisheries.
Initially, MPAs will affect the amount of catch. Since some parts of the MPAs are set as "no take" area, people are not allowed to fish in those regions. To some extend, it will reduce the scope of fishing, thus more people will be in a certain range of ground, which will have impact on the volume of fishing. In addition, due to the "no take" areas, fishermen need to displace from their traditional ground and find another place outside the reserves. This will increase the cost of the fishing because of potential new route and equipment. Furthermore, the target market of the industry will also have a possibility to be changed, since the species of caught fishes and surrounding environment will be limited or affected.
Opinion on role and relevance of marine protected areas
In my opinion, MPAs play a relatively positive role in the fisheries management. Its contributions made to protection biodiversity and managing commercial and recreational fishery has drawn much attention. For example, in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in order to protect whales, which live there all year or just pass through during migration season, the park makes it a role that the speed of vessel must be limited to avoid hurting the whales. With the effort of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the number of humpback whale found around the Queensland coast has risen at a rate of about ten per cent every year. Besides the whales, some threatened species like marine turtles, dugong and some sharks are also protected in the park. As to the management of fisheries industry, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park introduces zoning plans to define legal activities in different locations. Considered as a multiple-use area, the park sets eight types of zones to support various activities, which includes general use, Conservation Park, habitat protection, marine national park, preservation, scientific research and buffer zones. In this way, fisheries are managed well. In addition, it also guarantees the healthy condition of the Marine Park, which benefits the fishery industry and ensures more profits. Due to the outstanding management, seafood valued about $120 million is harvested in permitted sectors. Furthermore, according to the surveys, recreational and charter fishing gains about $4.2 billion for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park annually.