Marine protected areas work and are key to saving reefs.
Effectively managed MPAs represent the best defense coral reefs have against the ill effects of climate change: coral bleaching, introduced species, disease, and predator imbalances. Resilient reefs, reef systems where locally derived threats (recreational damage, unsustainable coastal development, watershed contamination, unsustainable fishing practices, lack of education and awareness) are measurably reduced, are better able to combat the large-scale threats brought about by a warming world. Studies show that even adjacent areas benefit from increased vitality in protected areas.
The need for actively managed coastal marine ecosystems has never been greater.
While well-managed MPAs are key to successful coral reef conservation plans, most MPAs are inadequately funded or lack basic capacity for monitoring and enforcement. Well-managed and supported marine parks protect reefs from human stresses. However, of approximately 1,000 recognized coral reef managed areas, less than one-third have any active management in place, and a mere handful have all the necessary pieces to be effective.
CORAL's CRSD work offers expertise in MPA management and effectiveness.
Along with reducing the effects of marine tourism on coral reefs, CORAL is committed to promoting MPA management and effectiveness from a global perspective through MPA gap analysis studies, the development of MPA management plans, ocean zoning assistance, MPA business planning, and the socialization of management plans and objectives with local businesses and communities.
CORAL also assists coral reef managers with monitoring and evaluation. While engaged in their daily business on the reef, marine recreation operators are well-suited to monitor for poaching activity and unsustainable behavior, and to collect simple biophysical data. This not only provides a new source of reef monitoring and data, but also builds a critical constituency of reef stewards.