A new vision for Marine Protected Areas

5th June 2012 - 15 days from the Rio+20 summit, the Monaco Blue Initiative 2012 put forward a new vision for the creation of Marine Protected Areas

We are now facing a dual challenge to stop the continuous degradation we are inflicting on our marine ecosystems, all the while demanding more of our oceans in terms of food and energy.
It is therefore urgent to rethink our relationship with the oceans and review our management of marine activities.

Healthy marine ecosystems are an essential requirement if we want oceans to answer our needs in the long run. The Monaco Blue Initiative 2012 in Yeosu South Korea, confirmed that industrials still fear the focus on envrionmental issues in Marine Protected Areas and this threat to business opportunities. Industries prefer promoting the best practices by sectors.

Some Marine Protected Areas work around this issue by targetting remote and uninhabited areas, while others remain purely theoretical and lack any support by local actors. The Monaco Blue Initiative has highlighted today that on the contrary, Marine Protected Areas can present a formidable framework to shift  to a local and sustainable form of management of marine activities.

A global and integrated approach of all human activities at sea and their impact on the ecosystems can lead to coherent and efficient solutions to protect the environment, as well as a global economic strategy that will favour improved coordination of the different activities. The Monaco Blue Initiative has shown that Marine Protected Areas can become efficient tools in the struggle with overfishing and promote the restoration of marine stocks, by regulating fishing around no-take reserves and supporting techniques respectful of the environment.

Additional activities such as ecotourism or aquaculture can find their place and benefit from a preserved environment. Finally, activities such as renewable marine energies can be compatible and complementary to the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. Marine Protected Areas are also a great opportunity to associate the local stakeholders, who must be willing to work together - in the same way the Monaco Blue Initiative has been working for the past three years - to conceive common, shared and respected projects.  These are necessary requirements for credibility and efficiency.

Traditional activities as well as innovative best practices must find their place in these projects. The consultation must be permanent, from the overview and choice of objectives to the assessment and monitoring, both environmental and socio-economic. A flexible regulatory framework can be used to take into account feedback for adaptation, monitoring and updated best practices. Dialogue and trust between political authorities, economic players and experts of the marine environment are determining factors to ensure the sufficiently rapid and concrete advances so that we do not deplte our ocean's resources.

The Monaco Blue Initiative promotes a broader vision of Marine Protected Areas, articulating highly protected zones covering the most significant ecosystems and areas where economic activities can coexist and benefit from the preservation of the environment, subject to good management. The Monaco Blue Initiative is committed to pursuing this analysis with involved economic players assembled to discuss the development of Marine Protected Areas. The exchange of experience and capacity building of all actors are determining factors for the conception of new models of development and for the rapid multiplication of Marine Protected Areas. In addition, Marine Protected Areas cannot constitute coherent networks with the functioning of large ecosystems unless Marine Protected Areas are created beyond National jurisdiction.

The oceans retain the status of common heritage to mankind. Marine Protected Areas present a unique opportunity to give a new meaning to this principle, by conceiving and deciding collectively the way in which we must protect the oceans to benefit from their services on the long term.

Rio +20
The MBI 2012 wishes to promote a new dynamic for the creation of Marine Protected Areas, by highlighting the potential of this concept, based on conclusive experiences, and lay the foundations for the development of economic activities at sea.

The MBI invites both political decision-makers as well as economic players to appropriate this concept that cannot and must not remain limited to conservation.

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco will carry the message of the Monaco Blue Initiative to the attention of the Heads of State when they meet in Rio from the 19th to the 21st June. The Monaco Government, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Oceanographic Institute and the different participating organizations and partners of the Monaco Blue Initiative will then relay the message.