Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, along with PICRC Board Member, Professor Robert Richmond from the University of Hawaii, joined 12 other scientists from all over the world, in publishing a paper, entitled, “Addressing Criticisms of Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas.”

The paper was published in the scientific journal, BioScience, in May of this year.

There are about 13,000 MPAs, averaging a size of about 2.5 square kilometers worldwide. However, recently, there has been an increase in the designations and establishments of Large-Scale MPAs (LSMPA), which average about 100,000 square kilometers in size.  Because of its huge size, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) is classified as an LSMPA.

Compared to smaller MPAs, LSMPAs have more benefits.  Because of their large sizes, they contain biologically connected and diverse ecosystems, from coastal to pelagic and deep-sea regions; therefore, they can benefit both organisms living on the bottom of the ocean floor and those that travel over large distances.  LSMPAs remove or limit direct stress from humans, which promote greater resilience to environmental disturbance and climate change.  In addition, they offer rapid progress to global MPA coverage targets.  Because of these benefits, there is considerable support for LMPAs from marine scientists.

However, there are some criticisms that have been raised against LSMPAs. In this paper, the authors critically evaluate and respond to some of the main criticisms that are commonly put forth against the establishment of LSMPAs through a critical review of the scientific evidence.

The authors conclude that while some of the criticisms are valid and need to be addressed, they are not strictly specific to LSMPAs. In fact, they are part of broader marine resource management challenges.  The paper makes the case that LSMPAs are a critical component of a diversified management portfolio, which includes fishery management tools (such as quotas, limited entry licenses and gear restrictions) and other types of MPAs, such as smaller networked sites or dynamic MPAs. Combining these management efforts is the best path in moving forward, by helping provide sustainable fisheries as a legacy for future generations, by insuring against ecological and resource management uncertainty, and enhancing the probability for successfully achieving sustainably managed oceans.

For more information or a copy of the paper, please contact Ines Kintoki via e-mail, or stop by the PICRC library. (PR)