Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes.
It is a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values".
MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Such marine resources are protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differ substantially among and between nations.
This variation includes different limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing or disrupting marine life.
MPA is an umbrella term to describe a wide range of protected areas for marine conservation around the world.
Several types of compliant MPA can be distinguished:
A totally marine area with no significant terrestrial parts.
An area containing both marine and terrestrial components, which can vary between two extremes; those that are predominantly maritime with little land
For example, an atoll would have a tiny island with a significant maritime population surrounding it), or that is mostly terrestrial.
Marine ecosystems that contain land and intertidal components only.
For example, a mangrove forest would contain no open sea or ocean marine environment, but its river-like marine ecosystem nevertheless complies with the definition.
Why Marine Protected Area (MPA)?
Marine protected areas are essential to safeguard biodiversity and to sustain vibrant seas and can increase biomass and biodiversity in tropical and temperate ecosystems
They serve as insurance policies against the impacts of fishing and other destructive activities.
India has a coastline of 8,118 km, with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 2.02 million sq km and a continental shelf area of 372,424 km², spread across 9 maritime States and seven Union Territories, including the islands of Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep.
The important species found in the Indian waters include, Dugongs, Whales, Dolphins, Olive Ridley Turtles, a variety of fishes including the Whale Sharks & other sharks, Giant Groupers, Sea cucumbers, horseshoe crabs, sea shells, soft & hard corals, etc.
India has at present following designated Marine Protected Areas:
Gulf of Mannar National Park, Tamil Nadu
Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park, Gujarat
Gulf of Kutch Marine Sanctuary, Gujarat
Malvan (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Gahirmatha Sanctuary, Orissa.
In India, all marine protected areas fall under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is the nodal agency at the central level and responsible for:
Overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes (Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, 2012).
At the state level the Department of Forests (under the Ministry of Environment and Forests) acts as the nodal agency for the same.
Departments of Fisheries are responsible for managing the fisheries resources in their particular state.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) deals with the science and technology research of exploitation of ocean resources (living and non-living).
MPAs can help sustain local economies by supporting fisheries and tourism.