Conserving marine biodiversity - How do we move forward?

Photo credit: DFO

Photo credit: DFO

Canada’s coastline and ocean surface area are greater than most countries, yet less than 1% of it is protected. The federal government has committed to establishing networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) covering at least 10% of our coastal and marine areas by 2020, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Progress has been slow. Will Canada actually meet our 2020 goal of establishing Networks of MPAs in Canada?

Below are three editorials concerning the establishment of MPAs by John Roff

Conservation of marine biodiversity: too much diversity, too little co-operation

Current efforts and practices in marine conservation, though well intentioned, are severely disorganized. Many regional, national and international agencies exist that are charged with marine conservation, but we are far from integrating their responsibilities and activities. Nor has the research community generally stimulated the development of co-ordinated national and international plans. There is now, fortunately, considerable interest in marine conservation, but we are still far from any systematic approaches to research on the biogeography of marine biodiversity itself, at least at the national and regional levels. Continue >

Photo Credit: Ocean Consevancy

Photo Credit: Ocean Consevancy

Conservation of marine biodiversity – how much is enough?

The ecological foundations of marine conservation are still shaky. Not in the sense that efforts are ineffective, but rather in the sense that quantitative goals as proposed may not be defensible. Here I accept that the primary goals are preservation of biodiversity and sustainable exploitation of fisheries and other marine resources. I also accept that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a primary (though not the exclusive) tool to achieve these goals. In a previous editorial (Roff, 2005) I suggested a list of questions that the scientific community needed to address as national and international plans for marine conservation are developed. The research agenda in marine conservation has advanced significantly in recent years, and several of the questions I posed are under
active investigation by groups around the world. Among the questions I posed was: ‘What proportion of a region do we need to protect y in order to achieve defined (quantitative) goals of conservation?’ Continue >

Networks of Marine Protected Areas – The Demonstrability Dilemma

In 2010, the Conference of the Parties under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity set as a global target: “By 2020, at least… 10% of coastal and marine areas… of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through … ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas… integrated into the wider landscape and seascapes”. The 2020 agenda thus calls for the establishment of Networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the world. The term MPA is used here generically to mean any type of marine protected area with defined goals.  Continue >


Path Forward, 5 minute Presentation by John Roff on December 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm