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2011 Edition

Message

Promoting a new approach to the management of human activities in relation to marine biodiversity.

Meeting of the Monaco Blue Initiative members, 13th and 14th February 2011, in Monaco.

The oceans and seas undergo considerable pressure and damage, in particular as a result of current exploitation methods. Such harm, in the long term, is a threat to the marine ecosystems and the living organisms found there. Today, we are faced with a major challenge: to reconcile the protection of our seas and the extensive resources contained within them with their exploitation, based on sustainable and harmonious socio-economic development, which is respectful of the natural balance. Accordingly, management tools must now be implemented that are both appropriate and effective in protecting the marine environment.

Marine protected areas, an ecosystemic approach for these areas and current species conservation measures are all instruments of utmost importance for the sustainable development of the seas and oceans. But alone, this is not enough to guarantee and achieve truly efficient protection goals.  For example, although Marine Protected Areas are able to control local anthropic pressure, they remain powerless in the face of more global or more diffuse pressures (such as climate change).

In light of the above, the MBI members therefore suggest that MPAs be integrated into a broader approach and vision for the spatial management of the marine environment; one which takes into account all the services rendered by marine ecosystems, whether they be of an economic, ecological or social nature.

- They suggest “rethinking” the spatial management of human activities in relation to the marine and coastal environment. Conservation can be seen from the point of view of preserving our natural capital, and development from the potential income this can offer.  In order to achieve this, the implementation of new evaluation tools for this natural capital is essential.

- They recommend that the foundations for identifying and delimiting MPAs not be based exclusively on scientific criteria but on a set of parameters, which also include the various sectors of activity that are developing there or may develop there in the future. This means expanding a management system centred on the conservation of species and habitats to a management system also based on the conservation of natural mechanisms, essential for the sustainability of socio-economic development.

For these natural mechanisms to be preserved, human activities need to be managed as effectively and efficiently as possible. Certain players suffer negative impacts, sometimes significant, when setting up MPAs. Social measures are therefore necessary, especially as the positive effects of management measures are sometimes only perceived in the long term, or do not benefit the same players. Therefore it is essential to compensate for any loss of income even before the advantages of the management system become apparent, and to support these players in the development of income-generating activities with no negative environmental impacts.  

- They would like the challenge of marine environmental management to be shared by all the decision makers and players involved. This must no longer be constrained by futile opposition between conservationists and supporters of social development. The natural capital factor- in the economic sense – provides new arguments for debate, even for compromise. It will enable us to prompt the economic sectors into implementing the integrated and sustainable exploitation of these areas. The involvement of all these players in the decision making process can only be beneficial to these marine areas. This is particularly pertinent in the cross-border context where aspirations for increased decentralisation and regionalisation open up new areas for agreement and cooperation.

- They feel that MPAs should be viewed as a crucial tool for activities planning, both within and beyond their boundaries, and in which economic players take a key role in management based on the ecosystems and the services they provide.

In this context, although nothing precludes conservation from being the number one motivation for the management of a marine area, its value in terms of sustainable development must also be acknowledged through its zone of influence for the neighbouring ecosystems.  The most appropriate solution is to approach the conservation of the marine ecosystems from a much wider (geographically speaking) and more integrated (economically speaking) approach.

- They suggest promoting talks between the economic players and protagonists and/or those in charge of MPAs. These partners would provide additional parameters for evaluating the capital of our marine areas. These new synergies between the various players would enable us to initiate a participatory process to develop new MPAs, as well as support existing ones. 

This approach is now beginning to correspond with the concerns expressed by the international community, national and local decision makers, as well as the scientific community.

The champions pledge to carry the MBI message, both in the field and at various events. This will enable synergy among the social, economic, political and scientific players involved for the spatial management of human activities in relation to marine biodiversity.