Why protecting the world’s fisheries and the Coral Triangle is so important (Q&A)

Rare Planet    Yobo Member
May 28th, 2010

Rare launched a 10-site campaign this week to establish and improve the management of “No-Take Zones” —regulated fishing areas that empower local communities to protect dwindling marine resources both for their own livelihoods and for global conservation — throughout the Coral Triangle.

Below is a Q&A with Rare’s Vice President, Asia, Nigel Sizer, about Rare’s first marine cohort and why protecting the world’s fisheries, and the Coral Triangle in particular, is so important.

Why is protecting the world’s fisheries important?

The majority of the world’s fisheries have been overfished and are in decline. Overfishing also harms biodiversity and crucially upsets the livelihoods of millions of poor families who depend on artisanal fisheries for their primary source of cash income, as well as for protein. While tropical forest conservation, which I have spent most of my career working on, has long been at the forefront of environmental concerns, I think it’s fair to say that fisheries and marine conservation deserve even greater attention.

What makes Indonesia an important area for marine conservation?

Indonesia is by various measures the country with the greatest marine biodiversity on Earth. It holds records for fish and coral species counts, as well as having some of the most extensive coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. At the same time, threats to these resources are tremendous given Indonesia’s and the region’s fast-growing economy, demand for fish and other marine resources, and spreading and poorly planned coastal development.

What is the importance of the Bogor 4 cohort (the newly launched 10-site campaign in Indonesia)?

The group of ten campaigns all aim to help local communities, working with the government and other NGOs, to better manage their fisheries resources within high priority marine protected areas, including the Raja Ampat area of Papua, Bunaken, and Wakatobi National Parks, and even the Thousand Islands National Park in Jakarta Bay. For the first time for Rare in Asia, all of the campaigns aim to employ the same solution to address the problem – implementation of community-supported no-take zones, where fishing is not permitted, surrounded by much larger areas where fishing is restricted to only local fishing communities. Later in the year Rare will set up similar programs at another 20 or so sites in the Philippines and Baja California.

Why do you think Rare’s approach to conservation is a good fit for marine conservation?

Systematic empowerment of local communities, in collaboration with the government agencies responsible for marine protected area management is, we believe, the most likely solution to the local overfishing problem. Only when local communities benefit directly from conservation efforts will they buy-in strongly and for the long term. This is the essence of Rare’s approach. The 50 different applicants to join this group of campaigns, from which we selected the best 10, seem to heartily agree.

This story originally appeared at the Rare Conservation Blog

Visit Rare Planet’s yobo profile here

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