New European Marine Board position paper on Marine Protected Area Networks | JPI OCEANS

New European Marine Board position paper on Marine Protected Area Networks


New European Marine Board position paper on Marine Protected Area Networks

A new European Marine Board position paper presents science needs and priorities to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning networks of MPAs across Europe and beyond.

The Towards Marine Protected Area Networks in Europe position paper 18 (pdf), produced by the EMB working group on Marine Protected Areas, will be officially launched at the European Maritime Day 2013 stakeholder conference in Malta on 22 May 2013.

This position paper highlights a set of science needs and priorities that can best contribute to the process of establishing a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Europe. The paper examines the different phases of MPA development, as a contribution towards the ecosystem-based management of European seas and oceans. The establishment of networks of reserves has been proposed by many scientists and wildlife managers as a way to effectively protect biodiversity.

The following science needs and priorities were identified:

  • Promote a coordinated, harmonized and open access approach to MPA-relevant data obtained through marine survey work;
  • Refine habitat classifications using modelling distributions of critical or vulnerable marine ecosystem indicators at a scale relevant to both MPA planning and fisheries management;
  • Promote systematic long-term monitoring of MPAs and their surrounding waters;
  • Advance the understanding of ecological coherence gaps and critical components such as connectivity;
  • Establish a core set of indicators to measure MPA network efficiency;
  • Promote the incorporation of adaptive approaches and new and emerging issues such as climate resilience and blue carbon in MPA management;
  • Provide legal clarity to establish clear guidelines for international bodies and Member States regarding cooperation in the high seas and implementation of stringent MPA management measures;
  • Establish culturally appropriate guidance to promote stakeholder engagement and incorporate socio-economic issues;
  • Develop policy-relevant guidance for systematic and harmonized MPA network development, management and review; and
  • Promote cross-sector partnerships and develop pilot projects that link marine monitoring with maritime surveillance.


Science commentary: Arctic marine research

In addition to the position paper on MPA networks, the European Marine Board recently published a science commentary which calls for urgent multi-national and multi-sectoral investment to increase Europe’s capacity to observe and study the Arctic Ocean ecosystem before the region is transformed by rapid environmental change and commercial exploitation.

The Science Commentary titled "Getting ready for an Ice-free Arctic" (pdf), was launched at the Arctic Science Summit Week, 13-19 April 2013 in Kraków, Poland. The call for action represents a common vision approved by the 35 Marine Board member organisations and is strongly supported by the European Polar Board.

The commentary argues that changes in the Arctic Ocean ecosystem may have fundamental implications for the global earth and climate systems. Sea ice and harsh conditions mean that the Arctic Ocean remains one of the least explored parts of the world ocean. There is very limited information on the topography, geology, physics, chemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of the water column, seafloor and sub-seabed.

Hence, the commentary argues that due to the retreating Arctic ice cover, a number of critical scientific questions should be raised :

  • How will the increased wind forcing and upper ocean mixing affect heat transport from the Atlantic to the Arctic?
  • How will the reduced Arctic ice cover affect future weather patterns and influence climate change?
  • How will pelagic and benthic Arctic ecosystems respond to ocean acidi?cation which is already happening more rapidly in the Arctic than in other warmer sea basins?
  • How will human activities and pollution (inluding noise pollution) affect species and ecosystems?
  • How will the distribution patterns of marine organisms be affected; will important commercial fish stocks move north?
  • Which upper ocean organisms will thrive in conditions with strong direct sunlight in summer and complete darkness in winter?

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