Bringing the Ocean to Society
15 Nov 2018
Marine Protected Areas, an unsuspected economic engine?
As MPAs are set to cover more of the maritime space, a brand-new EC study states that they can generate unforeseen, but tangible economic benefits while still being instrumental for biodiversity conservation.

Both the UN and the EU require that countries set aside sufficient areas of their seas for biodiversity conservation in the form of MPAs. Concerns that this is yet another cost for people making a living from the sea do exist. Even though scientific evidence is scarce, anecdotal evidence is abundant, including statements by blue businesses themselves. It all points to a profusion of new jobs and new business opportunities around MPAs. At least, the new EC study states so.

Fisheries and tourism seem to rich with such positive examples – and with success stories, in fact, which hinge on the very existence of the local protected area to begin with. But the study also found examples of business benefits for sectors like aquaculture, blue biotechnology and even passenger shipping. Not to mention, of course, the jobs generated by the MPA itself: for its daily management, for scientific monitoring and for consulting with engineering companies to restore coastal and marine habitats.

Through ten case studies, the new study reveals a wide spectrum of benefits for the local economic operators and communities, sometimes backed up by precise econometric data. What’s more, it uncovers practical real-life 'tips and tricks' on how to enforce, how to fund and how to govern an MPA and really make it work for itself and for the community.

Funded by the EC, the new study on Economic Benefits of Marine Protected Areas and Spatial Protection Measures, provides valuable lessons and ideas for anyone involved in MPAs and will undoubtedly raise awareness and acceptance of marine protected areas.