Emerging themes to support ambitious UK marine biodiversity conservation
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Healthy marine ecosystems provide a wide range of resources and services that support life on Earth and contribute to human wellbeing. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are accepted as an important tool for the restoration and maintenance of marine ecosystem structure, function, health and ecosystem integrity through the conservation of significant species, habitats, or entire ecosystems. In recent years there has been a rapid expansion in the area of ocean designated as an MPA. Despite this progress in spatial protection targets and the progressive knowledge of the essential interdependence between the human and the ocean system, marine biodiversity continues to decline, placing in jeopardy the range of ecosystem services benefits humans rely on. There is a need to address this shortcoming. Ambitious marine conservation: • Requires a shift from managing individual marine features within MPAs to whole-sites to enable repair and renewal of marine systems; • Reflects an ambition for sustainable livelihoods by fully integrating fisheries management with conservation (Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management) as the two are critically interdependent; • Establishes a world class and cost effective ecological and socio-economic monitoring and evaluation framework that includes the use of controls and sentinel sites to improve sustainability in marine management; and • Challenges policy makers and practitioners to be progressive by integrating MPAs into the wider seascape as critical functional components rather than a competing interest and move beyond MPAs as the only tool to underpin the benefits derived from marine ecosystems by identifying other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) to establish synergies with wider governance frameworks.
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