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Marine and Coastal Protected Areas

Within the context of national and regional efforts to promote integrated marine and coastal area management (IMCAM), networks of marine and coastal protected areas, other conservation areas, and biosphere reserves, provide useful and important management tools for different levels of conservation, management and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity and resources, consistent with customary international law.

According to decision II/10, critical habitats for marine living resources should be an important criterion for the selection of marine and coastal protected areas, within the framework of IMCAM, taking into consideration the objectives of the Convention. Conservation measures should emphasize the protection of ecosystem functioning, in addition to protecting specific stocks.

The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties incorporated a substantial amount of new text on the topic of MCPAs into the programme of work, based on the work of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on MCPAs and SBSTTA 8 (recommendation VIII/3). Noting the low level of development of MCPAs, the COP agreed that the goal for work related to MCPAs under the Convention should be the establishment and maintenance of MCPAs that are effectively managed, ecologically based and contribute to a global network of MCPAs, building on national and regional systems, and including a range of levels of protection.

The COP, in both decision VII/5 on marine and coastal biological diversity and decision VII/28 on protected areas, adopted the target of developing such MCPA systems by the year 2012, echoing the commitment made in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development . The COP agreed on the establishment of a national framework of MCPAs consisting, in the context of integrated marine and coastal area management, of areas allowing sustainable uses and areas where extractive uses are excluded. Appendix 3 of decision VII/5 describes in detail these elements of a marine and coastal biodiversity management framework. In addition, the COP provided guidance for the development of a national marine and coastal biodiversity management framework and agreed upon a list of research and monitoring priorities that represent current knowledge gaps.

Marine and coastal protected areas is also an element of the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, contained in the annex to decision VII/5.

Programme element 3 comprises:

Goal: The establishment and maintenance of marine and coastal protected areas that are effectively managed, ecologically based and contribute to a global network of marine and coastal protected areas (1), building upon national and regional systems, including a range of levels of protection, where human activities are managed, particularly through national legislation, regional programmes and policies, traditional and cultural practices and international agreements, to maintain the structure and functioning of the full range of marine and coastal ecosystems, in order to provide benefits to both present and future generations.

  • Operational objective 3.1

To establish and strengthen national and regional systems of MCPAs integrated into a global network3 and as a contribution to globally agreed goals.

  • Operational objective 3.2

To enhance the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction

  • Operational objective 3.3

To achieve effective management of existing MCPAs

  • Operational objective 3.4

To provide support for and facilitate monitoring of national and regional systems of MCPAs

  • Operational objective 3.5

To facilitate research and monitoring activities that reflect identified global knowledge gaps and priority information needs of MCPA management.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme