#DIDYOUKNOW? About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. According to U.S. Geological Survey, there are over 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. This massive amount of water present on Earth is home to millions of animal and plant species. These species play a vital role in the marine ecosystem and are really precious, therefore they are considered as the treasure of the Marine Kingdom.
You might have seen the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" or heard of similar human robbers who steal treasure. Here in this case we HUMANS are the pirates! YES HUMANS AGAIN….
Human activities are threatening the health of the world's oceans. According to a study, more than 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From coral bleaching to sea level rise, entire marine ecosystems are rapidly changing. Global warming is also causing sea levels to rise and rising temperatures increase the risk of irreversible loss of marine and coastal ecosystems.
Anyhow, better late than never humans are getting aware of their foolishness and trying to divert their whole focus to solve the problems they created themselves in the first place. Many plans were made, many strategies were formed and then emerged a new concept- "Marine Park." Some of you might be already wondering - What is Marine park?
A Marine park is a type of marine protected area (MPA). An MPA is a section of the ocean where a government has placed limits on human activity. The main objective of such parks is to achieve ecological sustainability, promote marine awareness and understanding, enable marine recreational activities, and provide benefits for indigenous people and coastal communities.
Marine parks are basically the guardian of ocean treasure and they can take good care of nature. They are doing their job well and are providing a lot of benefits.
Let us discuss a few reasons as to why there is a need for such parks and what benefits they provide?
Protection of Biodiversity
Amanda Feuerstein in one of her articles acknowledged the fact that biodiversity is the foundation on which our entire blue economy is based. Without the millions of different species in the ocean, we would not be able to support our fishing and tourism or our many inventions, technologies and medicines that we derive from the ocean. Marine parks play an important role in protecting biodiversity by imposing restrictions on the activities that are threatening for marine life.
Protect Coastal Towns
Mangroves and coral reefs act as fish nurseries and provide grounds for many other marine organisms to live in and breed, increasing the availability of food for local communities. For coastal communities the value of a mangrove or a coral reef is far more than the value of the fish that live there or the wood that comprises it. These ecosystems protect coastal homes against storms and floods, and reduce the disastrous impact of climate changes. Coral reefs can reduce wave energy by an average of 97 percent and mangroves secure the coastline so that rising sea levels do not reach coastal homes. Due to establishment of marine parks the threats to such ecosystems have reduced to a large extent.
Boost Alternative Livelihoods
The benefits of an MPA extend far beyond the boundaries of protection. Marine Parks act as the home base for species and these species use the protected area to reproduce, feed or congregate. Due to this their population increases and obviously these species won't restrict their growth in the park area, they will spread over a large region. Therefore even if fishing is restricted inside the Marine parks, just outside the border the fish are more numerous and far larger. This helps to boost the fishing sector. It also supports the tourism sector. In terms of marine tourism, aquatic parks offer the best solution for tourists because they are comparatively cheaper than watching animals in the sea. Many tourists can visit one aquatic park and watch various sea creatures.
The global coverage of marine parks or marine protected areas (MPAs) is 7.68%. Progress in expanding the coverage of marine protected areas is underway. UN Environment assists countries in approving the effectiveness and equitable use of marine protected areas by providing technical expertise and capacity building support on governance of marine protected areas, and their use within wider integrated ocean and coastal management systems.
The world has already made remarkable progress by increasing the spatial extent of the MPAs. In 2000 the area covered by MPAs was approximately 2 million km² (or 0.7% of the Ocean), since then there has been over a ten-fold increase in MPA coverage with 27,841,368 km² (or 7.68%) of the ocean being covered by MPAs. Plans are being made to increase the spatial extent of these areas further in the future.
At the end let me share a mantra with you all. Hear what Jacques Yves Cousteau an Oceanographer said : "We must plant the sea and herd its animals using the sea as farmers instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about - farming replacing hunting."
Let's take an oath to switch our roles from pirates to guardians and to protect and cherish the treasure of the Marine Kingdom! Stay connected for more at www.johnsonodakkal.com