Showing posts with label marine protected areas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marine protected areas. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2013

MPAs and Climate Change - Charlotte Hopkins Blog

Getting the blog up and running- firstly a little background to the project:

With the Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) Project firmly underway it will become increasingly important to understand how marine protected areas will perform in future scenarios of climate change. How will climate change affect MPAs and are we planning for it? 

Impacts on the oceans from climate change, such as melting sea ice and the plight of polar bears, or rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, are well publicised. However, climate change is also affecting the functioning of marine ecosystems in other ways; sea level rise, changes in weather patterns and changes in ocean currents are also altering ocean conditions. Species shifting their distribution in response to these changes may not be protected by traditional marine protected areas.

Although marine protected areas cannot guard against alterations in sea temperature for example, through reducing other stressors such as overfishing MPAs may mitigate the effects of climate change and are still an important long-term conservation tool.

 Questions about marine protected areas and climate change are only just being addressed and current planning and management regimes may not be able to cope with the pressures of climate change. Managers will need to think strategically with carefully designed socioeconomic and conservation goals. Monitoring and adaptive management will be key facets in promoting climate change resilience and ecological integrity.

As a PhD student I will be aiming to answer some of the important management and policy questions of marine protected areas in the context of climate change. MPAs have been delivering results worldwide and using the vast experience from international examples will be key to understanding how climate change considerations can be applied to the Scottish process.

 This PhD will be supported by Climate XChange (CXC) to provide timely information relating to MPAs and climate change. I am working closely with Tavis Potts at the Centre for Sustainable Coasts, a joint initiative between the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and SAMS addressing marine policy in Scotland.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Marine Protected Areas for the UK

This morning the BBC has reported a sharp increase in the amount and scope of marine protected areas in UK waters.Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) there is a legal obligation to implement a 'coherent' network of MPAs, driven in turn by agreements at the international level such as OSPAR and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Under the Act, MPAs within an 'ecologically coherent network' should be developed for the waters of England and the offshore region for Wales. In Scotland this would occur under a separate legislative process (The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010) and in Northern Ireland the process has not started.

It is a considerable expansion - from an approximate level of 1% to 25% - that would significantly protect marine ecosystems.....and livelihoods. The zones, while incorporation marine protection, also allow for human activity at various levels - particularly activities that do not adversely damage the features under protection. This will clearly be a challenge to activities that generate some impact, and will potentially drive innovation towards sustainable uses of the sea. Management plans and zoning of activities have not been discussed at this point, what we see today is the initial designation of sites that will feed into a scientific review and a further political negotiation.

Two points to end on - it is likely that the network will be altered under the negotiation process; and the management planning process for protected sites will be critical to ensure marine features are conserved and appropriate and sustainable marine activities are allowed to flourish.