World’s Largest Survey of Marine Parks Shows Conservation Can Be Greatly Improved

World’s Largest Survey of Marine Parks Shows Conservation Can Be Greatly Improved

Marine protected areas have been created across the globe to stem the loss of biodiversity in our oceans. But are they working? Now, thanks to a six-year survey involving over one hundred divers, we know that the global system of marine protected areas still has much to achieve.

More than 100 divers agreed to donate their time, learning scientific underwater survey techniques, using their weekends and holidays to collect new data, and spending long hours afterwards identifying species and entering data onto computer spreadsheets

Graham Edgar

The marine environment lies out of sight and is expensive to survey, so its true condition is very poorly known. What we do know is that multiple threats—most notably introduced pests, climate change, fishing and pollution—are pervasive.

We also know that conditions are deteriorating. Numbers of many Australian marine species have collapsed since European settlement. Some species haven't been seen for decades, such as the smooth handfish, which was once sufficiently abundant to be collected by early French naturalists visiting Australia but hasn't been seen anywhere for more than 200 years.

If this were a mammal, bird, reptile, frog or plant, it would be listed under Commonwealth and state threatened species acts as extinct. As a marine fish, it has not been considered for any list.

Read the full article here: Project Aware

Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library - Photographers: Dr Jean Kenyon and Dr Greg McFall
Source The Conversation
Professor Graham Edgar, marine ecologist at the University of Tasmania
As published on http://www.projectaware.org