‘The race for vast remote ‘marine protected areas’ may be a diversion

Following the UK Government’s announcement of the huge Ascension island No Take Zone – Peter Jones reminded me of the series of articles he and Elizabeth De Santo wrote about the contrasting approaches by Governments – UK Government being a good example – in relation to these large sites relative to the rather poorer performance in delivering no take zones (NTZs) in the waters around our own coast. The articles, papers and links on this are set out below:

The article in The Conversation and The Guardian based on a paper in Marine Policy (published version and copy of paper), &  press release on media coverage of this paper.

Taking what you can get & ambition

Whilst I can understand the sentiments behind these thoughts they brought to mind the interviews I did with Elliott Norse for my book (Chapter 23). He had worked successfully with three US Presidents to deliver legacy projects on very large marine sanctuaries including with President Obama to deliver the massive Hawaii marine sanctuary. His work is was probably the start of this idea for very large MPAs. Throughout the interviews he returned to the theme that he felt that he hadn’t achieved enough! He also questioned whether we were being ambitious enough in what we were aiming for in terms of the size coverage of world’s marine protected areas.

No take zones in home waters

Peter is right to highlight the fact that Ascension NTZ simply raises once again why progress with NTZ in UK home waters has been so pathetic. Nobody interested in MPAs around the UK can have failed to notice the ‘suboptimal’ level of NTZs – perhaps a few percent. We posed the question of why last year (Earll, Gubbay, Solandt, 2018). The idea is simple. The evidence from around the world is overwhelming. Yet we have an institutional Government block on progress in UK. Mr Gove is certainly bright enough to get it – he could act decisively to show his colours. Even if these areas were scientific reference areas it would be a start. Perhaps on the wave of this latest round of Blue Planet awareness further progress can be made on NTZs in UK waters?

Bob Earll

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