MPA News Open Channels:  ‘As the global MPA community approaches the 2020 deadline for meeting Aichi Target 11, it must achieve two potentially very different goals. There is the numerical goal of covering 10% of coastal and marine areas in MPAs. And there is the qualitative goal that the conservation be achieved through “effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems” of protected areas. Achieving the numerical goal will be easier than the rest.

Take the UK, for instance. By the end of 2018, the nation had 297 MPAs that covered 23% of its marine estate (not including the UK’s vast Overseas Territories like Chagos or the Pitcairn Islands). That 23% figure looks impressive compared to the Aichi Target’s 10%. Yet the UK has only four MPAs that are completely no-take. And just 1.6% of the nation’s marine area is closed to bottom trawling.

So are the UK’s MPAs effectively managed? As reported in MPA News, recent research suggests that “weakly regulated” MPAs – i.e., sites that allow high-impact gear types like bottom trawling – yield few if any direct conservation benefits, due to the impact of their allowed uses. In other words, such sites are generally ineffective for biodiversity protection.

With the 2020 deadline approaching, it seems likely that we will see a lot of analyses of national MPA systems – as governments race to meet the numerical goal of Aichi Target 11, and as academics and NGOs simultaneously assess the qualitative goal. Among the first of these reality checks was by Jean-Luc Solandt, published in Biodiversity journal last year on England’s MPA system. Solandt, of the Marine Conservation Society in the UK, says his nation is falling well short of the protection needed to meet the international target. MPA News spoke with him. Click here to read more

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