Recreational value of MPAs
One way to gauge an MPA’s effectiveness is by what neighbouring communities gain. For instance, MPAs that don’t allow fishing have 1.5 to two times more fish in them and show a 30 percent increase in biodiversity compared to similar unprotected sites. Some of those fish ‘spill out’ making the fishing better near MPAs. But the benefits extend beyond community based fishing.
Most people living on British Columbia’s coast cherish its natural rugged beauty. So do tourists who come to enjoy the wilderness experience which is becoming ever more rare in our crowded world. MPAs can preserve this valuable commodity, but they will only retain their recreational value if there is no development— or very little—within the boundaries. As with fishing, tourism benefits will ‘spill out’ to nearby communities.
At Living Oceans we’re working through the Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP) to design a network of protected ocean ecosystems along the coast. At MaPP, an MPAs’ potential recreational value is considered alongside the worth of its habitat conservation, cultural values and local economic needs. Because coastal communities stand to reap the benefits of MPAs it’s important that they have a chance to identify the places and species that they want to see protected and play a role in the management and governance of those areas into the future. MaPP will be seeking public input beginning in the spring of 2014 and Living Oceans will make sure that the voices of the people who live and work on the coast are heard at the planning tables.