05/16/2011 - The past five years has seen a spurt in the creation of giant marine protection areas, including a 320,000 km2 marine reserve announced earlier this month in Australia.
"Now we have a competition for politicians to see who can have the biggest one," said Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, at the start of the Society for Conservation Biology's 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, Canada, on Saturday.
The Pew Environment Group's Global Ocean Legacy programme has set its sights on two further massive protection areas in the near future: they hope to see New Zealand approve a 630,000 km2 area in the Kermadec Islands later this year, and Australia protect 900,000 km2 in the Coral Sea in 2012. Others are even more ambitious. As of December 2010, the Sargasso Sea Alliance is aiming to get a 5-million-square-kilometre restricted-use marine protected area recognized around Bermuda.
"There's an interest in marine reserves like there has never been in the past, and we need to capitalize on that," says Jay Nelson, director of the Global Ocean Legacy programme, based in Juneau, Alaska. But that will get harder over time, because the first large protected areas have been in remote places without strong commercial fishing interests.
Read the full article Marine Protection Goes Large on the Nature Web site.