In 2003, the World Parks Congress, the largest global assembly of protected area specialists and conservation managers recommended that marine “protected area networks should be extensive and include strictly protected areas [ i.e. marine reserves] that amount to at least 20-30% of each habitat.” This call is being echoed by other scientific, political and expert fora, including, in 2005, the United Nations Millennium Project, which called for 10% of the oceans to be covered by marine reserves in the short to medium term, with a long-term goal of 30%.
Decision VII/28 of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity requires all signatory parties to complete such a network of well-managed marine sites by 2012, including representative marine and coastal areas where extractive uses are excluded, and other significant human pressures are removed or minimised.
In advance of the next Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP9), which will be hosted in Europe, Germany, it is time to take stock. All the more concerning is that neither Europe nor the rest of the world are on track to protect a network of marine reserves by 2012.
This lack of progress in establishing marine reserves is aggravating the already perilous state of many marine ecosystems. It further undermines initiatives aimed at a better scientific understanding of the composition and functioning of marine ecosystems, as it prevents comparative studies between exploited ecosystems and those that are left to recover or are as yet untouched. Marine Reserves are needed to serve as control areas in research efforts.
The following statement has been opened for signatures. The intention is to release the statement on June 8 th World Oceans Day timed to feed into discussions in preparation for the Convention on Biological Diversity and the ongoing negotiations for a new European Union law for the protection of Europe’s seas the Marine Strategy Directive. The idea stems from a similar initiative by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) which helped stimulate the marine reserve debate in the US.
I hope you will feel this is an initiative you can support; the oceans need it. Please reply to me (email@example.com) with your name, affiliation, degree qualification, and country to add your name to the signatories. Signatories should have a Masters or PhD level qualification or equivalent, and work or reside in countries of the European Union.
Many thanks for your support.
Callum Roberts (University of York)