16 October 2012, Hyderabad, India - Marine protected areas are more than just isolated sanctuaries that house exotic coral reefs and fish - they also play an indispensable role in safeguarding our oceans' enormous ecological, social, and economic benefits, says WWF.
This was the message delivered during a high level dialogue of government representatives, policy makers and conservationists at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad today.
"It is imperative that governments work hard to change the all too common misconception that marine protected areas only benefit biodiversity and have few benefits for people," said Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive of Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Australia
"Governments must be made to understand that marine conservation makes an important contribution to their sustainable development agenda."
The dialogue, hosted by WWF, showcased real-world examples from across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans to demonstrate the range of social and economic benefits marine protected areas can provide to coastal communities - from enhancing food security to protecting jobs and livelihoods.
"All stakeholders need to be engaged in long-term solutions for protecting the integrity of our unique marine environment and the enormous economic potential our oceans can provide when used in a sustainable manner," Mr Gschwind added.
"For instance, Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contributes in excess of $5 billion to the national economy annually."
About 350 million jobs worldwide are linked to the ocean and well designed and managed marine protected areas can ensure these jobs last well into the future.
Marine Protected Areas are important not just for global biodiversity but also for people's livelihood
"When recognised and understood by communities, governments and businesses, the enormous financial benefits of these important areas can provide a powerful catalyst for scaling up marine conservation," said Alasdair Harris, Research Director of Blue Ventures, speaking at the event.
WWF's Global Marine Programme works on MPAs worldwide as a way to contribute to the global agenda on ocean protection, through its MPA Action Agenda. This initiative is specifically designed to provide global support and accelerate regional and national MPA establishment efforts. For more information contact Valérie Burgener at WWF's Global Marine Programme, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Ventures' work focuses on creating financially sustainable and scalable models for marine conservation in partnership with some of the world's poorest coastal communities. Blue Ventures aims to demonstrate the diverse benefits of sustainable fisheries management to communities and markets alike. For more information visit http://blueventures.org/conservation/.
The event took place at the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India. The CBD was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, with a near universal global membership of 193 countries as Parties to the convention. 2012 is the convention's twentieth anniversary year, and this year's meeting aimed to bring into focus the need for balancing economic development, demographic pressures and environmental conservation – a reality faced by several countries all across the globe.
Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation dedicated to conservation, education and sustainable development in tropical coastal communities. Through our marine expeditions, volunteers from around the world join us on career breaks, student gap years and internships, working closely with our field research teams, in partnership with local communities.
Blue Ventures' projects are focused in environmentally and culturally sensitive regions of the world. All project visitors are required to be aware that we are privileged guests in our host countries, towns and villages. We insist that all team members, acting as ambassadors to Blue Ventures, adapt their behaviour to recognise local cultural sensitivities. We have a responsibility to minimise negative impacts on local environments and communities where we work, as well as to provide tangible benefits to our host communities.
To find out more about Blue Ventures Expeditions visit our volunteer pages on our website.
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