Brazil is on the verge of changing marine conservation history in the South Atlantic. After lagging behind other developing countries in Marine Protected Area coverage, with only 1.5% of its jurisdictional waters under some sort of protection, the Brazilian government has opened public comments on proposals to establish a mosaic of MPAs around the oceanic archipelagos of St. Peter & St. Paul Rocks and Trindade & Martin Vaz, covering approximately 900,000 square kilometres and making Brazil´s MPA coverage jump to some 21% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Both archipelagos are biodiversity hotspots and their surrounding waters harbour many endemic, vulnerable and endangered species, including whales, sharks, sea turtles and many pelagic species severely depleted by industrial overfishing.
The mosaic includes proposals for two core no-take areas of approximately 109,000 km² of Natural Monuments, strictly no-take areas where fishing, mining and any extractive activity would be totally prohibited, whereas in the surrounding multiple-use zones fishing would be strictly regulated. A coalition of Brazilian environmental NGOs and Tourism sector stakeholders, however, is pushing for the no-take zones to be greatly expanded.
Brazil has made numerous commitments to protect marine biodiversity to date, including with the Promise of Sydney, the 2017 Ocean Conference, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14. The proposals for the new large mosaics of protected areas are also related to (and will strongly need) the Brazilian Blue Initiative.
The President of Brazil, Michel Temer, is expected to make a decision in early March, after the public consultation period ends. Any organisation or individual interested in submitting expressions of support for these MPAs can do so by writing to Consulta Publica, Gabinete Passoal, Ministro Defesa, as well as to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, emphasizing that the expansion of Integral Protection no-take MPAS is most welcome and necessary to safeguard marine biodiversity.
At the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, as part of the Promise of Sydney, Brazil committed to:
The result would be: