Maritime Affairs

An unsuspected economic engine: Marine Protected Areas

An unsuspected economic engine: Marine Protected Areas

An unsuspected economic engine: Marine Protected Areas

05/11/2018

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are set to cover more of the maritime space. Both the UN and the EU require that countries set aside sufficient areas of their seas for biodiversity conservation.

But is this yet another cost for people making a living from the sea? Quite the contrary. A brand-new Commission study finds that marine protected areas can generate unforeseen, but tangible economic benefits.

Even though scientific evidence is scarce, anecdotal evidence is abundant, including statements by blue businesses themselves. It all points to a profusion of new jobs and new business opportunities around MPAs.

Fisheries and tourism are indeed rich with such positive examples – and with success stories, in fact, which hinge on the very existence of the local protected area to begin with. But the study also found examples of business benefits for sectors like aquaculture, blue biotechnology and even passenger shipping. Not to mention, of course, the jobs generated by the MPA itself: for its daily management, for scientific monitoring and for consulting with engineering companies to restore coastal and marine habitats.

Through ten case studies, the new study reveals a wide spectrum of benefits for the local economic operators and communities, sometimes backed up by precise econometric data. What’s more, it uncovers practical real-life 'tips and tricks' on how to enforce, how to fund and how to govern an MPA and really make it work for itself and for the community.

Funded by the European Commission, the new study on "Economic Benefits of Marine Protected Areas and Spatial Protection Measures", provides valuable lessons and ideas for anyone involved in MPAs and will undoubtedly raise awareness and acceptance of marine protected areas.

Follow us this week on Twitter @EU_MARE and Facebook @EUMaritimeFish for daily success stories!