Knowledge of how people interact with each other and with their environment is a necessary component of effective resource policy. Policymaking, including for MPAs, appears to be most informed and innovative when it is open to the views and experience of all stakeholders. However, despite their involvement in the use of coastal and marine resources around the world, many women face barriers to participating fully in the planning and management of those resources.
Marion Howard is MPA advisor for CORALINA, a Colombian government agency that manages the natural resources and sustainable development of Colombia's San Andres Archipelago, designated by UNESCO in 2000 as the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. Howard has been overseeing a project to develop a network of marine protected areas within the biosphere reserve, which has an estimated population of more than 80,000 people. Although not a Colombian, she has lived in the San Andres Archipelago for 25 years; she is the only non-national at CORALINA.
Mexican government officials reached agreement with shrimp trawlers in late October in a contentious dispute over fishing restrictions in a marine reserve. The agreement, which allows trawlers to resume harvesting shrimp in the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve, ended community protests that had blocked the movement of hundreds of tourists between Mexico and the USA.
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Leasing submerged lands: new conservation tool?
In theory, no-take marine reserves hold benefits for nearby fisheries: the reserves allow target species to grow older and larger, produce more young, and ultimately replenish fished areas with larvae and/or adults. While evidence of benefits to fisheries has appeared in scientific literature, some researchers argue that most science on reserves has not involved sufficiently rigorous experimental design, including the use of control sites.
In a move to protect the waters of one of the most remote places on Earth, Australia has designated a giant marine reserve around an island group just outside the Antarctic Circle. At 65,000 km2, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve is the world's largest no-take area - roughly the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined.