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Marine protected areas generate local development




MEDITERRANEAN. A study carried out by Plan Bleu has established a link between the protection of marine and coastal environments and an increase in revenues, and not just from tourism.



Revenues from artisanal fishing could rise by 2% or 4% if protection actions are strengthened (photo MN)
Revenues from artisanal fishing could rise by 2% or 4% if protection actions are strengthened (photo MN)
A good environmental status in marine protected areas naturally provides non-market services, of which CO2 sequestration is a good indicator.
 
But a good level of protection also creates market benefits and is an integral part of the economic well-being of the regions concerned, says Anaï Mangos.
 
She has just published an economic study of the effects of marine and coastal protected areas in the Mediterranean with Maud-Anaïs Claudot on behalf of the Plan Bleu for the Mediterranean.
 
“It's safe to say that environmental degradation leads to a reduction in these benefits in these areas, at least over the long term.”
 
The study, which was carried out in five protected areas in countries from Spain to Turkey including Algeria, Tunisia and Greece, points out that tourism generally gains the most from a good level of environmental protection in these coastal areas.
 
“But, in regions with few means of transport in particular, we highlighted that fishing equally benefits from a good biodiversity status as a result of protection actions.”
 
The case of the Kuriat Islands in Tunisia illustrates this: visitors won't even find a disembarking point there, and tourist activities remain for sea enthusiasts only.
 

Benefits in relation to tourism could increase by 4% per year

Even without additional protection, the study estimates that benefits in relation to tourism could increase by 4% per year in these Tunisian islands. The activities of diving clubs in this area alone could generate an annual increase in benefits of 3%. As for revenues from artisanal fishing, these could rise by 2% or 4% if protection actions are strengthened.
 
The same goes for the Cap de Creus marine area near Girona in Catalonia, which has a long history of protection but is compromised by the increasing artificialisation of land where areas of activity are growing rapidly.
 
Ms Mangos believes that “The number of tourists there will increase even more from 2017 onwards after a charter for sustainable tourism is adopted.” The explanation? Tourists will be considered to be more respectful and will contribute to lowering the costs of protection while at the same time strengthening it.
 
This virtuous scenario doesn't appear to be possible everywhere. But strengthening protective measures in all areas could have positive effects on the local economy.
 
This work was presented at the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3)
held in Marseille and in Corsica.
 
However, this study also reveals a threshold effect. Too much protection could hinder local development. At the same time, well thought out compensatory measures could, for example, make up for a temporary fall in fishing revenues caused by marine reserve restrictions.

 
The study estimates that benefits in relation to tourism could increase by 4% per year  (Photo MN)
The study estimates that benefits in relation to tourism could increase by 4% per year (Photo MN)


Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE


Monday, November 18th 2013



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