Scholarly article on topic 'SeaStates G20 2014: How much of the seas are G20 nations really protecting?'

SeaStates G20 2014: How much of the seas are G20 nations really protecting? Academic research paper on "Earth and related environmental sciences"

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Marine protected areas / No take reserves / G20 countries

Abstract of research paper on Earth and related environmental sciences, author of scientific article — Katelin L.P. Shugart-Schmidt, Elizabeth P. Pike, Russell A. Moffitt, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Shelly A. Magier, et al.

Abstract Marine protected area (MPA) coverage is commonly used as a metric of progress for the marine conservation movement. Reporting the extent to which governments are contributing to global MPA targets (e.g., the IUCN World Parks Congress recently called for a global target of 30% no-take reserve coverage) provides accountability and frames individual progress within this larger context. The various types of MPAs offer differing levels of protection. No-take marine reserves (i.e., areas strongly protected from all fishing, mining and other extraction-based activities) demonstrate the greatest benefit for the conservation of marine biodiversity and the protection of ecosystem services. Using data collected and curated at MPAtlas.org, spatial coverage of no-take reserves was compared across each of the Group of 20 (G20) countries (with the exception of the European Union). Coverage of no-take reserves and other protected areas shows significant variations among this group of nations. Despite many commitments by the G20 to protect their waters, such as agreement with the Aichi Target 11 (10% of coastal and marine areas will be conserved by 2020), these nations with the greatest financial resources fall far below targets. Claims of national MPA coverage are also found to be misleading because weakly protected or poorly enforced areas are often evaluated equally with the strongest no-take marine reserves. Results show that 14 of the G20 member countries strongly protect less than 1% of their ocean area in no-take reserves. One G20 country protects just over 2%, while the remaining four protect more than 4% in no-take reserves.

Academic research paper on topic "SeaStates G20 2014: How much of the seas are G20 nations really protecting?"

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Ocean & Coastal Management

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ocecoaman

SeaStates G20 2014: How much of the seas are G20 nations really protecting?

Katelin L.P. Shugart-Schmidt , Elizabeth P. Pike, Russell A. Moffitt, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Shelly A. Magier, Lance E. Morgan

Marine Conservation Institute, 4010 Stone Way N. Suite 210, Seattle, WA 98103-8099, USA

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ARTICLE INFO

Article history: Received 19 December 2014 Received in revised form 21 May 2015 Accepted 28 May 2015

Keywords:

Marine protected areas No take reserves G20 countries

ABSTRACT

Marine protected area (MPA) coverage is commonly used as a metric of progress for the marine conservation movement. Reporting the extent to which governments are contributing to global MPA targets (e.g., the IUCN World Parks Congress recently called for a global target of 30% no-take reserve coverage) provides accountability and frames individual progress within this larger context.

The various types of MPAs offer differing levels of protection. No-take marine reserves (i.e., areas strongly protected from all fishing, mining and other extraction-based activities) demonstrate the greatest benefit for the conservation of marine biodiversity and the protection of ecosystem services. Using data collected and curated at MPAtlas.org, spatial coverage of no-take reserves was compared across each of the Group of 20 (G20) countries (with the exception of the European Union).

Coverage of no-take reserves and other protected areas shows significant variations among this group of nations. Despite many commitments by the G20 to protect their waters, such as agreement with the Aichi Target 11 (10% of coastal and marine areas will be conserved by 2020), these nations with the greatest financial resources fall far below targets. Claims of national MPA coverage are also found to be misleading because weakly protected or poorly enforced areas are often evaluated equally with the strongest no-take marine reserves.

Results show that 14 of the G20 member countries strongly protect less than 1% of their ocean area in no-take reserves. One G20 country protects just over 2%, while the remaining four protect more than 4% in no-take reserves.

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction

Estuarine, coastal and oceanic ecosystems are home to millions of marine species, but fishing and other extractive activities have led to significant declines in marine life (Myers and Worm, 2003; Baum and Myers, 2004; Roberts, 2007). The Living Planet Index reports a 39% decline for marine vertebrates in the last 40 years (McRae et al., 2014) and research indicates we are now witnessing a dramatically increased rate of extinction based on human impacts (Pimm et al., 2014; McCauley et al., 2015). These far reaching

* Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: Katelin.Shugart-Schmidt@marine-conservation.org (K.L.P. Shugart-Schmidt), Beth.Pike@marine-conservation.org (E.P. Pike), Russ. Moffitt@marine-conservation.org (R.A. Moffitt), Vienna.Saccomanno@marine-conservation.org (V.R. Saccomanno), Shellymagier1@gmail.com (S.A. Magier), Lance.Morgan@marine-conservation.org (L.E. Morgan).

impacts, especially over-consumption and habitat destruction, are significantly straining the oceans' capacity to sustain human life. We now risk mass extinction in the seas and severe reductions and alterations in the critical ecosystem services provided by the oceans, such as essential protein, breathable air and a livable climate (Barnosky et al., 2011).

Because ocean ecosystems contain diverse species, protecting multiple inhabitants in a large area is more effective than protecting each species or group individually (Gell and Roberts, 2003; Russ et al., 2008). Protecting complete ecosystems allows animals to reach their maximum reproductive potential and enables increases in population size. These refugia strengthen ecosystems by keeping natural processes intact and enhancing resiliency for their inhabitants. Beyond the protected boundaries, healthy populations can spread out into adjacent waters, increasing the biomass surrounding those protected areas and bolstering local fisheries (Lester et al., 2009; Edgar et al., 2014). Research suggests that

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.05.020

0964-5691/© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

strategically created networks of marine protected areas can help valuable ocean systems survive the uncertainty of global climate change by alleviating additional stress from overfishing, habitat destruction, or marine pollution (Olds et al., 2014; Micheli et al., 2012).

However, not all marine protected areas are created equal. There are thousands of places governments and regulatory bodies have termed "marine protected areas" but are very poorly protected in practice (Mora and Sale, 2011; Lester and Halpern, 2008). Protection needs to be strong to be effective and to enable ecosystems to receive the most important benefits. Many existing marine protected areas guard against only a few threats, and most allow moderate levels of extractive activity (e.g., recreational or small-scale commercial fishing, such as many of Germany's Natura 2000 sites). No-take marine reserves (i.e., strongly protected areas) safeguard marine life from the harmful effects of fishing and other extractive uses, such as drilling for oil and gas (Edgar et al., 2014). While some degree of recreational or subsistence fishing may be permitted in no-take reserves, these areas strictly limit virtually all such extraction and are managed with conservation as a primary objective.

The "Group of Twenty" (G20) is an international forum representing the world's 20 largest economies. These countries span the globe and are the most financially capable in the world; collectively their economies account for approximately 85% of the gross world product (Department of Labor, 2014). The G20 countries (with the exception of the European Union) were selected for analysis to test the conventional ideology that countries with larger economies may be more capable of protecting, and in practice do better protect, their environmental systems and natural capital than countries with less economic resources. The results establish a baseline of what protection is like in economically capable countries, and may be used in future comparisons with other international groups.

With the exception of Saudi Arabia, each of the G20 countries has signed the Convention on Biological Diversity's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011—2020. This Strategic Plan includes a biodiversity target, Aichi Target 11, which states that by 2020 10% of coastal and marine areas will be conserved through effectively managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes (Convention on Biological Diversity, 2010). The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals also recognize the need to "conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas ... based on best available scientific information" (United Nations, 2014). There are several other important agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (United Nations, 1992) and the Durban Accord (IUCN, 2005) that followed from the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress, that have set gradual and tangible marine conservation goals for world economic leaders.

The above mentioned international agreements were designed to hold countries accountable for the health of their marine ecosystems by 2020. In the fall of 2014, the World Parks Congress increased their previous recommendation from strict protection of 20—30% of each marine habitat to 30% protection of each marine habitat in no-take reserves by 2030 (Hannam, 2014). Current no-take marine reserve coverage varies by nation and across the globe. As of May 2015, only 0.94% of the ocean is protected in no-take reserves (MPAtlas.org, 2015).

2. Material and methods

Data were obtained from MPAtlas.org, including the location, size, IUCN category, and management structure of protected areas across the globe (MPAtlas.org, 2015). MPAtlas.org has obtained

official records from the World Database on Protected Areas (Protected Planet, 2014), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), MPA Center inventory of marine protected areas (National MPA Center, 2014), the Coral Triangle Atlas (Coral Triangle Atlas, 2014) and other national and regional inventories. Further research was conducted to create and update accurate marine protected area records worldwide. As such, MPAtlas.org represents the most thorough and continuously updated global record of marine protected areas available (Data are available at http://www.marine-conservation.org/seastates/g20/2014/).

After the marine protected areas of the G20 countries (excluding the European Union) were reviewed and evaluated, publically available management plans and reports were compared to determine which sites fit the criteria of no-take areas. Some areas might have been unintentionally overlooked or overestimated. Protected areas were only included when information about management standards or regulations was available. For example, Australia's 2012 Commonwealth Marine Reserves are included in the World Database on Protected Areas, but the regulations are currently suspended while a public review process commences. Thus these reserves are not included in this analysis. Similarly, the new, very large marine protected area that encompasses most of the waters of New Caledonia was not included in this analysis as management plans and regulations are not yet in effect. As the Pitcairn protected area is very close to implementation, with monitoring and enforcement budgets established, and will be entirely no-take, its future impacts have been considered in select results.

For most marine reserve zones, geospatial boundary data were available to determine the coverage of the marine area. For some sites, only a point and an area estimate were known. In these cases, a circle was constructed with an area matching the provided area estimate. As most protected areas are small, estimating coverage for such areas with a circular buffer has been found to only introduce small errors (Mora et al., 2006). In both cases, the constructed boundaries were clipped by a global high-resolution coastline data set to remove terrestrial components (per methods of Wessel and Smith (2014)).

For sites that were indicated to be partial no-take and when the size of no-take area was available but the specific internal no-take zone boundaries were not, the size of the remaining marine area was scaled to match the known no-take area value. In these cases there was no definite way to know where the no-take zones were, but the correct amount of ocean designated as no-take was still captured. Alternatively, if other sources indicated that the site was partially no-take but no size estimate was available, no-take zones were assumed to comprise ten percent of the total area, a value representing the lower quartile of no-take coverage of all zoned MPAs found in MPAtlas.org (median is 18%). Using the smaller size estimate prevents low quality data records from skewing the results. Only twelve sites needed to be estimated in this way; this approximation offered some credit when no other information was known.

No-take coverage for each country was calculated for their entire marine estate (areas within their exclusive economic zone [EEZ] and territorial waters, i.e., all waters out to 200 nautical miles [nm]). Coverage within home-nation waters, overseas territories and remote holdings was further assessed. In the Mediterranean, the 12 nm territorial seas boundaries were used rather than the 200 nm exclusive economic zone boundaries, as the central part of the basin is considered high seas (Chevalier, 2004). The Pelagos sanctuary was also included in the total MPA coverage for Italy and France.

Accurately tracking no-take marine reserve coverage can be difficult (Wood et al., 2008; Thomas et al., 2014). Marine protected

Marine Protected Areas by G20 Nation: No-Take and Total Protected Area Coverage

No-Take Area (kmz) 1,637,262 United States

S Pitcai rn Ad dition □ Total MPA %

657,350 68,677 373,722 4,700.27 45,682.0 229.0 475.94 101.38 6,208.05 437.80 2,840.08 1,534.55 444.06 703.18 40.0 400.47 0.67 1.21

United Kingdom South Africa Australia Saudi Arabia Russia Germany Republic of Korea Italy» Canada China Indonesia Mexico India Brazil Turkey France* Argentina

[0)l5%

1 0.11% i

0.109%

Q>.050%

0.048% 1

Q.O47%

3-0194%

~5!>193%

1 0.0187%

0.0t)40%

J>]0001%

]o.oooo%

*Pelagos Sanctuary included in total MPA coverage for Italy and France

Fig. 1. Marine protected areas by G20 nation — no-take and total protected area coverage.

area site regulations were researched and compared to the stated IUCN categories to identify actual no-take areas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has established global categories for all protected areas (terrestrial and marine). These categories are recognized by international bodies, such as the United Nations, and by many national governments as a widely-used standard for defining and recording protected areas (Chape et al., 2005).

Inconsistencies in the application of, and reporting on, the IUCN categories established to catalog protected areas reduce the efficacy and use of the system as a global classification scheme (Bishop et al., 2004). The application of IUCN categories to marine sites remains inconsistent despite guidelines to apply them to marine areas. Making assumptions about IUCN category determination based on the name of a protected area (e.g., National Park, Sanctuary, etc.) rather than actual management objectives is a common problem with these designations (Day et al., 2012), and makes it difficult to ascertain progress towards international conservation targets.

No-take areas used in this report had either published regulations, or stated intent in authoritative documents. Sufficiency of management or enforcement to ensure that these areas were no-take in practice was not assessed.

3. Results and discussion

Of the G20 countries (excluding the European Union), 14 have strongly protected less than 1% of their waters, while only four have protected more than 4% of their oceans in no-take marine reserves (Fig. 1).

The United States leads the G20 with 13.47% of waters strongly protected, and is closely followed by the United Kingdom with 9.73% strongly protected (when the recently declared Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve is implemented, coverage in the United Kingdom will increase to a remarkable 22%). South Africa comes in third at 4.46% strongly protected; Australia follows in fourth at 4.13% in no-take reserves.

Saudi Arabia has protected 2.14% of its waters, while less than 1% has been strongly protected by the remaining G20 group members: Russia, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Italy, Canada, China, Mexico, India, Brazil, Turkey, France, Argentina, Japan, and Germany.

In addition to the paucity of the overall coverage, an important trend from the analysis is that the protection of large, remote areas makes up the vast majority of the global no-take area. For example, the United Kingdom has only three, small no-take areas in their immediate waters, while the vast majority of their no-take area is found in the distant British Overseas Territories.

In fact, the United States,1 the United Kingdom and South Africa all have the vast majority of their no-take reserves in remote waters far from centers of population (i.e., the United States' Pacific Remote Islands at 1,270,000 km2, the United Kingdom's Chagos at 640,000 km2, and South Africa's Prince Edwards Islands at 180,000 km2). These countries need to improve protection of the heavily used waters closer to home in order to ensure protections across all ecosystems and habitats and meet international coverage targets (Fig. 2).

If remote protected areas are removed from the present analysis, only two countries protect more than 1% of their marine estate with no-take reserves as a percentage of their domestic waters: Australia and Saudi Arabia. With remote waters excluded, the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa drop to less than 1% protection (Fig. 3).

3.1. Progress towards conservation targets

Since the Aichi Target 11 to reach 10% protected area coverage was established, many groups have advocated for the need to increase this conservation target. These efforts include The Nature

1 Papahanaumokuakea and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monu-

ments are included in this analysis as remote waters due to their distance from the mainland United States.

Exclusive Economic Areas of 620 Countries with Remote Waters

Percentage of Waters in Mainland vs Remote Areas

□ Mainland ■ Remote

United States ^^ United Kingdom

Australia [ZZ South Africa □ France India ZZ

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

Fig. 2. Exclusive economic area distribution for G20 countries with remote areas — mainland vs. remote areas.

Fig. 3.

2.5% 5.0% 7.5% 10.0% 12.5% 15.0% 17.5% 20.0% 22.5% 25.0

Percentage of mainland and remote waters found in protected areas in each of the G20 countries.

Conservancy's Caribbean Challenge Initiative, which aims to have 20% of the Caribbean's near-shore marine and coastal environments safeguarded in national marine protected areas systems by 2020; the Micronesia Challenge, which aims to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources across Micronesia by 2020; and the Coral Triangle Initiative, which has an ultimate goal of ensuring that 20% of each major marine and coastal habitat type within the Coral Triangle Region be protected in strictly protected "no-take replenishment zones." Marine Conservation Institute calls for strong protection for at least 20% of all marine ecosystems through its Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES).2

It is important to note that there are many countries outside of the G20 who have made remarkable progress towards conservation goals even in the context of more limited economic resources. For example, Madagascar, which ranks among the lower half of the world's countries in terms of gross domestic product, has made strong commitments to protect its marine environment over the last decade. In early 2015, Madagascar created three new marine protected areas that doubled the coverage of the nation's protected ocean zones. Kiribati, another economically restricted nation, has also made impressive conservation by protecting almost 12% of its EEZ in its Phoenix Islands protected area.

However, at the start of 2015, less than 1% of global oceans have

2 www.globaloceanrefuge.org.

been strongly protected in no-take reserves (the implementation of the Pitcairn marine reserve would raise coverage to 1.17%). While a few of the G20 countries have made admirable contributions towards this overall coverage, most G20 nations are still failing to do their part in reaching conservation targets. Significant differences in maritime histories and cultural values regarding ocean conservation may playa role in current protected area distribution, but are beyond the scope of this analysis.

As progress is made, care must be taken to ensure that protected areas are correctly placed, not just in areas that require the least political capital for implementation, but in areas of high ecological value (Devillers et al., 2014). No-take reserves must span the spectrum of ecosystem types and include the vast biodiversity found in the seas if they are to effectively contribute to ocean resilience.

Fisheries that are managed through local communities and on a small scale can also provide important protections against over-, unreported, and illegal fishing. However, it can be challenging to assess the overall effectiveness of these areas due to their variety, number and complexity. No-take reserves provide the best conservation value (Edgar et al., 2014), and nations should continue to focus on reaching global targets established through scientific evaluation of world-wide ocean need. Focusing on no-take reserves additionally helps to address concerns related to poor management, weak enforcement or misleading claims on intent because the standards for comparison are clear.

Table 1

Very large marine protected areas: existing, designated, and proposed sites.

Existing (implemented) MPAs Nation or authority Year Size (km2) % EEZ % Global MPAs % Global reserves

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monumenta United States 2014 1,270,000 11.19% 11.99% 27.10%

South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area United Kingdom 2012 1,000,700 14.70% 9.45%

Chagos (British Indian Ocean Territory) Marine Protected Areaa United Kingdom 2010 640,000 9.40% 6.04% 15.78%

Phoenix Islands Protected Areaa Kiribati 2006 408,250 11.88% 3.86% 10.67%

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monumenta United States 2006 362,074 3.19% 3.42% 9.58%

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Australia 1975 345,000 3.40% 3.26%

Marianas Trench Marine National Monument United States 2009 246,608 2.17% 2.33%

Northeast Atlantic High Sea Areas OSPAR 2010 238,988 2.26%

Prince Edward Islands Marine Protected Area South Africa 2009 180,000 11.72% 1.70%

Macquarie Island Marine Reserve Australia 1999 162,000 1.60% 1.53%

Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Protected Areaa Chile 2010 150,000 4.07% 1.42% 4.21%

Galapagos Marine Reserve Ecuador 1998 133,000 12.35% 1.26%

Marine Park of the Glorieuses & Marine Park of Mayotte France 2012 110,000 1.00% 1.04%

South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf Marine Protected Areaa CCAMLR 2009 94,000 0.89% 2.68%

Designated (unimplemented) MPAs Nation or Authority Year Area reported (km2) % EEZ % Global MPAs % Global reserves

Commonwealth Marine Reserves Australia 2012 2,300,000 22.66% 17.84%

Natural Park of the Coral Sea — New Caledonia France 2014 1,368,806 12.40% 11.45%

Marae Moana Cook Islands 2012 1,065,000 54.33% 9.14%

Pitcairna United Kingdom 2015 834,334 12.26% 7.30%

Scotland United Kingdom 2014 75,396 1.11% 0.71%

Gabon Marine Park System Gabon 2014 44,530 23.00% 0.42%

Marine Conservation Zones — 2013 United Kingdom 2013 9,664 0.14% 0.09%

Proposed and promised MPAs Nation or authority Year Area reported (km2) % EEZ % Global MPAs % Global reserves

Ross Sea and East Antarctica proposalsa CCAMLR 2013 2,250,000 17.52% 39.71%

South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Areaa,b United Kingdom 2015 1,449,532 21.30% 12.04% 29.79%

Austral Islandsa France 2014 1,000,000 9.06% 8.63% 22.64%

Easter Islanda Chile 2013 720,395 19.57% 6.37% 17.42%

Palau Marine Reservea Palau 2013 500,000 80% 4.51% 12.77%

Ascension Islanda United Kingdom 2015 441,658 6.49% 4.00% 11.45%

Marine Conservation Zones — 2015 United Kingdom 2014 10,810 0.16% 0.10%

a No-take marine reserve.

b Currently a multi-zone MPA, proposed to become a no-take marine reserve.

4. Conclusions Acknowledgments

This analysis is the first attempt at a comparative examination of no-take marine reserves for the largest economies of the world. No-take marine reserve coverage was selected as the metric for this analysis because it is one of the key indicators of the success of marine protected areas. The marine estate of G20 nations collectively covers 21% of the ocean; of this area just 3% is protected in no-take reserves. G20 members' commitment to protecting their coastal waters is demonstrably lacking for most countries. These results suggest that economic capacity alone does not translate well to protecting marine ecosystems and, if international targets are to be met, additional factors, including social and political ones must be addressed.

Without such protection oceans are likely insufficiently protected against the combined negative impacts of continued over extraction and climate change. Reserves are needed in all marine ecosystem types to address human needs and recover species and habitats. Initiatives, such as the Global Ocean Refuge System, can be utilized to leverage competition for conservation.

Effective protected area coverage is an important metric of global biodiversity conservation targets as agreed to under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and it is worth noting that most of the progress in marine reserve coverage has been achieved in the last decade (Table 1). The recent sequential designations of the world's largest marine protected areas by the United States and the United Kingdom, combined with many recent promises by world leaders to increase the number of marine protected areas, are a sign of great progress towards conservation goals. Only through the combined actions of all nations, in and out of the G20, will crucial progress towards much-needed, well-protected oceans be achieved.

We would like to thank Holland America Line, Arntz Family Foundation, Winslow Foundation and Waitt Foundation for making this report possible and supporting the MPAtlas.org tool. We would also like to acknowledge the valuable feedback provided by Henning von Nordheim (German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation), Stephan Lutter (WWF-Germany), Sylvain Archambault (CPAWS-Quebec) and Sabine Jessen (CPAWS-BC). We would also like to thank our colleagues and collaborators who help us maintain MPAtlas.org data, including the IUCN's World Database on Protected Areas, World Wildlife Fund, Oceana, PEW Charitable Trusts, Mission Blue and The Nature Conservancy.

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