This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
for Conservation, Fisheries Management
A brainstorming - by Stefan Thiesen
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persist in trying to
adapt the world to himself”
George Bernard Shaw.
Although the science of marine protected areas may be relatively young, the practice of
marine and terrestrial resource protection and management (in the widest sense) as well the
establishment of terrestrial protected areas have a long history in many traditions and cultures.
Historically it is only the modern western capital and growth oriented society that
incorporated the idea of limitless growth and limitless extraction and consumption of natural
stock on a large – now global – scale. Pre-industrial and pre-capitalist societies as well as
subsistence based cultures have always been well aware of the limits of natural resources –
now called natural capital. The main reason may well have been the previous absence of an
obvious divide between nature and culture, since human affairs were more clearly perceived
as interwoven with and dependent on the natural environment.
The expression “common sense” has no place in modern science, but even modern
science is beginning to appreciate that the “common sense” of experienced experts in a given
field does have a significant validity. For the traditional Hawaiian fishermen it was common
sense that disturbing reef communities by overfishing of single species would alter “makeup”
of the reef communities. They did not carry out quantitative studies, they did not use
statistical analysis, and yet they had a common empirically obtained knowledge base that
came down through generationsi.
Marine Protected Areas as a tool for Conservation
The issue at question is: Are Marine Protected Areas a valuable conservation tool? Do Marine
Protected Areas help solving the global fisheries crisis? These questions themselves raise
other questions, for example: What are conservation goals? What is the fisheries crisis? What
causes the fisheries crisis? For the sake of simplicity I define “fisheries crisis” as continuous
take beyond the real-world maximum sustainable yield with resulting collapse of taken
species, dramatic alteration of ecosystems and substantial loss of marine biodiversity. It is
unlikely that a collapse of fisheries is a true economic problem on a global scale, as capital is
likely to seek other investment opportunities once fishery seizes to be profitable. The human
dimensions of course include regional unemployment, problems of food supply and
significant human misery – which, as cynical as it may sound, are not necessarily issues being
of any concern for economic interests at large. Conservation goals also are not easily defined,
also because the sea is a system constantly in flux, so it is not entirely clear what precisely it
is aside from human economic interests that are to be conserved.
No other country has set up more MPAs. upwelling of cold nutrient rich deep-sea water etc. The general rules and criteria were created by the World Conservation Union. the near shore MPAs all in all only make up 0. Among the criteria are: • • • • • • Pristine state? Biogeographical importance Ecological diversity Economic status Scientific value Social benefits Until now these protected areas all are located in territorial seas or exclusive economic zones and thus are managed by certain countries. pollution. According to a paper published by the researchers Mark Costello and Camilo Mora. many of the existing protected areas are under threat from over harvesting and pollution. The latter is pretty much the resource management practice of many traditional culturesii. Recently a study on the effectiveness of 19 Marine reserves worldwide was completed. and the two largest reserves are comprised of the complete territorial marine area of two archipelagos: the Kermadec Islands and the Auckland Islands. which is too small to provide any protection at all for larger and often far travelling species such as marlin. Islands and seamounts with all the known factors leading to biological diversity (deep-water turbidity. although New Zealand is a world leader in marine protected areas.In any case. The case is still out on how much better than nothing they actually are. with the largest reserve being around the Poor Knights Islands in the North of the Country. A study by the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory arrived at different conclusionsiv. tuna and squid. it is safe to say that they certainly are better than nothing and help preserve local marine biodiversity.3% of the entire territorial seas of New Zealand. to other regions) The total (of otherwise exploited) fish abundance increased All in all these results seemed to suggest that even MPAs of limited scope and dimension can be a valuable conservation tool. siltation and poaching are continuous problems According to the study 40% of the marine protected areas are less than 1 to 2 km² in size. Even the largest reserve only covers an area of merely 2000 Hectar.and shallow waters. and it had shown that the areas did have a significant positive impactiii: • • • Overall marine biodiversity increased The Number of fish species increased (on average 11% comp. However. Although lots of research needs to be done. These two open-sea reserves are particularly valuable since they include deep. Among the countries with most experience in this respect is New Zealand.). a marine protected area basically changes the economic rules of a given area by removing it from the access of human economic activity (in the case of a no-take reserve) or by strictly regulating economic activities in this area (in the case of strictly managed fisheries and marine harvesting). According to Mora et al: • • • 18. By now Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been brought into life by several countries. Especially the large predatory species do not stay within limits .7% of Coral reefs are technically protected by MPAs In less than 2% of the coral reefs regulations are strictly enforced Eutrophication.
and water usage from the mountains into the sea. in essence. but not numbers of this magnitude. We had a routine and we had disciplines. culture and nature that goes beyond most modern integrated management approachesvi. The researchers recommend that every MPA should be at least 10 to 20 kilometres in diameters to provide a larger habitat for some species. The Ahupua’a integrated protection and economic use by applying an integral view of man. but also about routine. Source regions of rivers and streams were protected areas. Conservation is a prerequisite of usage. And while management of MPAs varies worldwide. One example is the traditional Hawaiian land. economy will always remain a subset of ecology – or at least of nature. The establishment of Marine Protected Areas is rarely followed by good management and enforcement. Costello remarkedv: "We were expecting a poor result. This study of protected areas worldwide suggests we are not reaping their potential positive benefits and stemming the current decline of coral reefs worldwide. and as long as humans will be a part of the game. Coastal fish-ponds were established that had a dual effect: they kept runoffs from streams away from the pristine lagoon waters and at the same time took advantage of these nutrient enriched waters that had passed through fertilized fields. and the “land” division stretches all the way to the outer fringing reef. pollution of rivers was prohibited and marine harvesting also was closely monitored.” This view makes no distinction between “conservation” and “usage”. And as a physicist I must say they indeed are not. Additionally they should be spaced in a way that allows for genetic exchange between the MPAs." In other words: much remains to be done. To achieve this it would be enough to protect about 25. Economy and ecology are no separate entities. The Ahupua’a regulates land. a part of resource management. .of small protected areas and hence can be lost to harvesting. These nutrients allowed for an amazingly sophisticated aquaculture. because they are of significant interest to fishermen. carefully looked after.and coastal management concept called “Ahupua’a”. As the Maori elder Huhana Mihinui explained about pre-Western Maori resource managementvii: “Managing our resources was a way of life when I was growing up. (…) the food resources were protected or utilised depending on need. Resource sustainability meant our own survival. society.000 km² of the existing coral reefs. Our resources were our livelihood and. Marine Protected Areas for Fisheries Management: Especially traditional island people in regions with limited resources have a long history of resource protection and management. There was no management without discipline. also in the field of fisheries and coastal zone management. therefore." His co-author and fellow researcher Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University submits an even bleaker view: "What we found. is that we are creating paper parks. Sustainability was not only about protecting resources. and it is everything but clear if it will be done. Rules existed for the size.and varieties of fishes and other marine creatures that could be taken. Conservation is a very important part of resource management. but exploitation is also. or roughly 5% respectively. it was particularly low in areas of high coral diversity such as the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean.
Again: Protected areas are areas where the rules of the prevailing cultural activity are suspended – the activity of. Seuss. as those dominating cultures merely state that they consider themselves superior to other values. respect – and in some cases even reverence for all life. charity. All three have in common that they claim for themselves to be “value free”. Science and Socialism/Communism. among them being humility.” Dr. Most of the major classical religions have similar core values. Apo Island is a small Island in the central Philippines Western Visayas region. It’s not. What is the answer? “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. These are Capitalism. to say it in a crass way – turning every available aspect of the world into money applying every available means and technology. bottom trawling) A recent paper by Russ et alviii has shown that over the 20 year observation period the approach has been a success and resulted in • • • Higher catch rates Less fishing effort Increased standard of living of the locals In the context of the same study it could also be shown that the no-take reserve played an important role in this success story: after the protection of a no-take zone at Sumilon Island in the Philippines that had been established for 10 years broke down. the catch rates significantly decreased. I dare to ask the . and in the real world as it is. and as such it is at odds with the other main influence of human cultures: religion. The Island is less than 2 kilometres long. It is unlikely that small no-take zones or even large MPAs like the enormous North Western Hawaiian Marine National Monument alone will provide the answer to the global threats to marine biodiversity and environmental integrity. Especially the culture of exponential growth represents an institutionalized form of greed. The answer lies in different incentives. and the Apo Island example tells the story of a changed economic context. less than one kilometre wide and home for approx. In any case.g. In fact that is as much an illusion as is the possibility of limitless growth. 500 people who live in a single village and mostly depend on fishing and some tourism. An example for a Marine Protected area where these rules of predator economics were suspended is Apo Island in the Philippines – one of the oldest and best researched modern efforts of combining marine conservation and exploitation. The Lorax At the end of the 20th and the beginning 21st century modern global society is shaped by extraordinarily strong materialist forces. Several approaches are applied: • • • • • Community based fisheries management Banning non-community fishery Establishment of a 500m wide coastal no-take zone in the South East of the Island Banning of large scale fishery Banning of destructive technologies (e. the effectiveness of small no-take zones remains limited. these incentives ultimately are monetary in nature. nothing is going to get better.
bring down bycatch wherever possible to levels approaching zero 14. better coordinate United Nations agencies that consider coasts and oceans . This may be the appropriate answer to what the late Swiss Economics Professor Hans Otto Binswanger called the “Glaubensgemeinschaft der Ökonomen” (Religious Community of Economists). When it comes to marine conservation the question at the beginning is the same as in other conservation fields – indeed the same as always in politics: what kind of world do we want? A high risk society favouring “the economy”. lessen the dominance of the fishing industry in fisheries management 20. prevent overcapitalization of fishery 13. promote transparency and public participation in fisheries management 19. move off maximum sustainable yield in relation to scientific uncertainty 21. foster cooperative state-federal governance of marine resources 5. create incentives for the production of hybrid fuel and alternative fuel vehicles 11. police and enforce fishery restrictions 18. apply the precautionary principle in policy making 3. recognize that the sea is not infinitely capable of assimilating harm 7. The main points areix: 1. putting business interests above everything else? A society for whom the short term interest of faceless organisations and apparatus are more important than humans – and other living creatures? Or a world based upon reason. In his works he attempts to expose that our unfaltering belief in money. Science alone does not provide any guidelines for behaviour. The same is true with science. expand public understanding of marine environments 2. diminish subsidies for petroleum based transportation 10. advance pollution prevention rather than end-of-pipe controls 6. curtail subsidies to the fishing industry that lead to unsustainable fishing practices 16. always changing. increase our capacity to learn in marine resource management 12. On the contrary: it is always in flux. implement the pollution prevention act 25. add a substantive element to the national environmental policy act 22. promote industrial ecology and clean production strategies 8. Science is a tool that can be used for any purpose. always incomplete. adopt green taxes to promote efficiency and conservation 9. Begin to address non-point sources of pollution 24. Science does not say whether it is bad when a species goes extinct. In his widely read book “Listening to the Sea” he sketched a future framework for the sustainable governance of the sea. growth and the creation of wealth is only very weakly rooted in reality – if at all. Science provides knowledge. but this knowledge is in no way all-encompassing. apply more local knowledge in resource management 17. protect spawning habitat by creating marine reserves and harvest refugia 15. 23. strengthen technology-forcing standards in the clean water act. support a conservationist III UN convention on the law of the sea 26. wisdom and precaution? Why do we have to be neutral and value free and without emotion – why can’t we be emotionally involved and actually care about – and for – the world we live in? Several years ago I had the pleasure to be involved with the American activist and Lawyer of the sea Robert Jay Wilder in a campaign against experiments for large scale CO2 dumping off the Big Island of Hawaii. build marine ecosystems management 4.question: is global society behaving reasonably? Or to push it further: are our values and priorities rooted in reason – not to speak of wisdom? The Canadian Conservationist and Science Writer David Suzuki predicts that the answer to our various global dilemmas will be “quasi religious” in nature.
Sources consulted and otherwise not quoted: Cicin-Sain. We will love only what we understand. Teubner Geographie. At the same time we are a highly emotional bunch. 1998 Clark. they could turn out to be the last resort for many threatened species. Some time ago I for myself have re-named our species from Homo Sapiens Sapiens to Homo Sapiens Potentialis. If no grander strategy will succeed. 1989 Sommer.: Kranke Meere? Verschmutzung und Ihre Folgen. MPAs alone will not solve the problems but remain merely one piece of a solution strategy. Human decisions always are a mix of knowledge and emotions. Baba Dioum who said: In the end we will only conserve what we love. Heidelberg. R.: Physische Geographie der Meere und Küsten. and Knecht.. 1998 Thiesen. 1992 Kelletat.: Climate Poker. And we will understand only what we are taught. Heidelberg.: Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management. S. D. I therefore agree with the Senegalese Ecologist. and it is common knowledge among psychologists that even important decisions are hardly ever based upon facts and logical arguments. Our talent for ignoring the obvious is at least as well developed. Washington D. B. Island Press. Springer. MindQuest.: Biologische Meereskunde. but we rarely use it. R. 1999 BBC TV series „Exploring our blue Planet“ . Heidelberg. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag. So as corny as it may sound.Marine protected areas play an important part in the grand strategy of global marine – and larger environmental – protection. U.B. As a species we may have a talent for reason.C.
A.P. Veron J. 1989 Suzuki. Gaston K.i Stone. G. ii . C. 2006. C.: How protected are coral reefs?. June 2006 vi Thiesen.. Milton Keynes. D. University of Hawai’i Press. Bantam. Reed.J.J.: Das Hawaiianische Ahupua`a aus Sicht des heutigen ICZM. and Knudstson. Auckland. May 2008 vii Mihinui. et al: Marine Reserve benefits local Fisheries. v Mora. et al: World's coral reef left vulnerable by paper parks .: Wisdom of the Elders. Kranenburg C. 2004 ix Wilder. 2007 iv Mora. University of Pittsburgh Press... 4(2).: A Flaxroot Understanding of Resource Management. H.: Conservation Biology in Hawai’i. 2002 viii Russ.... 1998. Costello M. EUREKALERT. 1992 iii Life in The Oceans. Marburg. P.: Listening to the Sea – the Politics of improving environmental Protection. Open University. New York. C. Ecological Applications.. R. Andréfouët S. in: Whenua – Managing Our Resources. Science 314. Rollo A. 757-760. poster presentation on the annual conference of the Working Groups Seas and Coasts of the German Geographical Society. Honolulu. Myers R. S.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.