Sydney, November 18, 2014
Today marks a landmark shift in the science of marine protection. As part of a new regularised process for the publishing of scientific information on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), IUCN and publishers Wiley Online Library have released a Special Issue of Aquatic Conservation that brings together a broad range of peer-reviewed articles by leading conservation professionals. This forms part of the harder and more compelling scientific evidence now available to support knowledge of the positive impacts that MPAs have on marine resilience, productivity and biodiversity.
This also represents a new mechanism to radically speed up the way in which new knowledge from MPA practitioners reaches the outside world. It is notable on this occasion that within a year over 240 pages of new information is being released today. IUCN and Wiley plan to continue this collaboration as a means of keeping MPA practitioners armed with the latest data and innovative ideas with which to maintain the recent impressive momentum in MPA creation and improved MPA management worldwide.
In her preface to the Special Issue, world-renown oceanographer, Sylvia Earle argues the case for channelling energy to convince political leaders to deliver on existing pledges. The 2013 International MPA Congress (IMPAC3), whose highlights are covered by the Special Issue, called on leaders to help restore ocean equilibrium by taking greater responsibility for the management of resources within the Exclusive Economic Zones. Despite notable recent gains, Dr Earle considers the rate of establishment of new MPAs as inadequate, particularly with regard to their geographical imbalance and the variety of habitats they cover. As one of the main obstacles to MPA creation date has been the lack of accurate science, it is hoped that cutting-edge publications such as the Special Issue, will help inform better decision making and more ambitious goals for ocean protection in the near future.