The Treaties - 33 - Marine Protected Areas


1. Marine protected areas are vital for the preservation of ecosystems that are of special importance. These coastal environments, including bays, estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, wetlands, tidal flats, seagrass beds and coral reefs, are highly productive and diversely complex. These areas are also environmentally susceptible to natural and human-related activities, such as climatic changes, sea level rise, dredge and fill activities, channelization, sedimentation, sewage discharge and shoreline development, among many others.

2. There is an urgent need for immediate action to stop further destruction of these invaluable marine ecosystems. Increasingly, management of coastal space, near-shore and off-shore ocean uses are being directly driven by the economic global model, based on the exploitation and generation of large profits, which are controlled by state, national and international governmental agencies that are responsive to large scale economic and political pressures and that cannot be, or are not, sensitive to interests of individuals living in coastal regions. These agencies regularly approve projects that are incompatible with the maintenance of the balance and the survival of these environments. This causes an unsustainable environment for the native population, whose survival depends on the living resources of this ecosystem; this results in the native population being displaced. Both factors cause unemployment, poverty and hunger. The governments of the world need to listen to the wisdom of all native peoples, i ncluding fishers, fishworkers and all other users of the marine environment.

3. To call for marine environmental education with a global perspective is not being idealistic, it is being realistic. It is realizing that unless the world becomes one in trying to solve these problems, there will be more catastrophes. We need a global mind change. We need a well-informed citizenry, aware of the environmental problems, anxious to seek solutions to existing problems and interested in applying knowledge for the prevention of future problems.

4. Through a massive educational endeavor, the attitudes and values of the world's citizens will be sufficiently altered so that they will become aware of the seriousness of the problems which threaten their very existence and of their responsibility and moral obligation to work cooperatively to solve these problems. The oceans of the world are a common resource in need of protection through international cooperation. There is only one world ocean with no real boundaries. The time for real action at the local, national and international level is long overdue!


5. Marine protected areas must be created to preserve biodiversity, including special attention and actions to support the native people. A comprehensive resource management plan which includes the recognition of the biological, physical, cultural, social, economic and political factors that affect resources must be implemented.

6. Strict regulations and policies are needed. Monitoring, surveillance and enforcement are absolutely necessary. Unless public awareness and education is promoted, the public will not support a marine conservation concept; the establishment of marine parks by force is futile.

7. Indigenous and other peoples must be empowered so that they may have a greater voice in the decision-making process.

Action Plan

NGOs should:

8. Act to force scientific and technological research centers to develop their projects to be more specifically directed to the real environmental conditions of each country or region, so that they become economically, ecologically and socially sustained and also democratic.

9. Monitor the projects supported by financial agencies to verify that they are not damaging the coastal ecosystems.

10. Develop and implement marine environmental educational programs for the public in order to promote awareness of the importance of bays, lagoons, coral reefs, mangroves, kelp beds, seagrass beds, wetlands and tidal flats.

11. Conduct special workshops and seminars for policy-makers, resource managers and industrialists. Government officials need to understand the needs of local people and the importance of the maintenance and enhancement of traditional patterns of resource usage. Regional, national and international considerations must be taken into account.

12. Recommend proposals to governments on subjects such as the preservation of undisturbed and critical areas, protection of breeding areas of endangered and threatened species, subsistence fishing, restoration of deteriorated habitats, abatement of all external sources impacting the coastal environment, sustainable harvesting of commercial species, monitoring the marine environment, enforcing regulations, proposing new legislation, funding applied and basic marine science research, funding mariculture projects, and funding marine education programs through educational institutions, interpretive centers, public aquariums and museums.

13. Lobby governments to ban the illegal use of toxic chemicals or poisons, explosives and destructive harvesting methods in special marine protected areas, reserves, sanctuaries and parks.

14. Once coastal resources management plans have been prepared, insist that legislators allow coastal residents to review and change decisions when necessary. All coastal residents should be informed of the establishment of marine parks and should participate in discussions and debates in an open forum.

15. Urge governments to adopt principles of "eco-tourism" and environmental ethics and to proceed cautiously when developing coastal shorelines.

16. Encourage organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Reef Relief, to provide support for educational programs, with a focus on sensitive marine environments.

17. Encourage the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to provide monitoring programs internationally.

18. Encourage funding agencies to provide support for marine resource management, conservation and educational programs.

19. Encourage the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to monitor resource management plans after they have been implemented by different coastal regions of the world.

Commitment of Resources

NGOs should:

20. Initiate regional workshops, with assistance from international NGOs, in order to exchange and share scientific information and procedures to deal with environmental problems.

21. Form an electronic network to share information. This will be organized by NGOs with computer technical support and should include programs to train and assist NGOs in developing countries.

22. Develop a complete list of NGOs with names of contact persons and areas of interest and expertise, organized by region, to encourage regional network-building and meetings.

23. Initiate a newsletter among ourselves to inform each other of actions taken to implement this NGO treaty.

© 2001 by Ulrich Schmitthenner • Bildschirm-Version