An operational framework to assess the value of fisheries restricted areas for marine conservation
An operational framework to assess the value of fisheries restricted areas (FRAs) for marine conservation was developed. Such a framework contributes to the wider concept of considering other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs), as complementing conservation efforts and substantially contributing to effectively and equitably achieving Aichi biodiversity Target 11. A tailor-made multi-criteria decision analysis was designed and applied, for potential OECMs to be carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis and categorized according to their effectiveness in terms of contributing to marine biodiversity conservation. The official documentation and guidance provided by the IUCN were fully respected and made operational, providing a paradigm to managers and decision makers for assessing the contribution of FRAs to marine conservation under the OECM concept. The study also constitutes a review of the conservation status of the Aegean Sea and provides scientific documentation to the managers and decision makers in the area to address spatial conservation targets. By considering Natura 2000 sites as effective marine protected areas (MPAs), the Aichi Target 11 is attained (14.94%) at national level (i.e. within the Greek territorial waters). At ecoregional level (i.e. including international waters of the Aegean Sea) the target is not achieved (6.66%). It is proposed that, by adding all effective FRAs and a number of less effective FRAs, under the condition of increasing their effectiveness for conservation, to the network of MPAs in the area and designating them as OECMs, the conservation target can be attained also at ecoregional level.
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