Wednesday, October 10, 2012

COP 11: Marine protected areas: Why local communities matter?


Faced with denial of their livelihoods in marine protected areas (MPAs), local fishing communities across the world have often opposed MPAs. Yet, indigenous peoples and local fishing communities are also known to have evolved effective systems, traditional and more recent, to govern their resources.

They are also known to be in the forefront of struggles that have challenged destructive and polluting developmental activities on the coast—struggles that have often cost them their lives but have undoubtedly helped in protecting marine and coastal biodiversity in significant ways.

Studies commissioned by ICSF in twelve countries—Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Thailand, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama—capture stories of of conflicts with MPA authorities and violations of the rights of local communities, but also stories of community-led efforts to conserve and manage fisheries resources. They demonstrate that communities are in fact part of the solution.

As governments and conservation organizations seek to expand coverage of areas under MPAs to meet the Aichi targets, of bringing 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas under a protected area system by 2020, they would do well to learn from such stories, to ensure that their efforts meet with ecological success in the longer-term, and contribute as well to poverty alleviation and socio-cultural and livelihood security.

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