A study by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia has found a surprising fact.
Commercial fishing inside Europe’s marine protected areas (MPA’s) is actually heavier than outside those areas.
Manuel Dureuil is lead author of the study. He is a PhD candidate in the Boris Worm lab at Dalhousie University, and president of Sharks of the Atlantic Research and Conservation Centre.Listen
The study published in the journal Science, is entitled “Elevated trawling inside protected areas undermines conservation outcomes in a global fishing hot spot”. (abstract HERE)
While Europe has a vast network of so-called marine protected areas, people may be surprised to learn that these MPA’s do and do not protect.
They do protect against activities like mining and illegal dumping, but generally do not exclude commercial fishing operations by huge vessels.
Billed as areas to protect bio-diversity, it seems they really don’t in spite of standards set by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
What the study found in fact was that commercial fishing activity was 38 per cent higher within the MPA’s than in non-MPA zones. It would seem that instead of promoting biodiversity and marine stocks in these areas, they are instead in the process of being fished out.
Dureuil says that certain species of sharks and rays for example have already been extirpated in some areas.
It is hoped that this report brings attention to the issue internationally, and that in Canada the government works to establish clear rules for its current and future marine protected areas to exclude the factory ships and other large commercial fishing operations.