Sunday, 11 November 2018 09:28

European Commission: Marine Protected Areas produce unsuspected economic benefits

EM6 18 News Int NoFishingA new report from the European Commission provides the latest evidence that marine protected areas (MPAs) not only encourage rejuvenation of depleted fish stocks, they can encourage economic activity and new jobs as well. The report, "Economic Benefits of Marine Protected Areas and Spatial Protection Measures", examines ten case studies among the dozens of MPAs that have been created in EU waters. There are numerous examples of business activities in fishing, tourism, passenger shipping, and the blue economy itself, all spurred by, or even dependent upon, the existence of MPAs.

Direct benefits of MPAs on fishing activities include increased abundance of larger, healthier fish, which leads to higher prices. Greater stock abundance reduces fishing costs and improves efficiency. Fish from an MPA can often receive an eco-certification, also leading to higher prices.

Benefits to the tourism sector arise from increased numbers of visitors and their length of stay, as well as extension of the tourism season, all of which mean higher incomes to sectors providing goods and services to tourists. MPAs encourage recreational activities such as SCUBA diving and sport fishing, further adding to local financial benefits.

The Commission report cites benefits to the blue economy (including aquaculture, blue biotech, ocean energy, and others), including increased revenue and profits from improved environmental inputs, cost savings from reduced repair and maintenance from better infrastructure, improved access to finance, and increased customer base and/or value from an enhanced company/brand image. The Commission hopes the report will raise awareness and acceptance of marine protected areas and alleviate concerns that they only add economic costs to fishing and other business activities.