FRANCE : The 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) in Ajaccio
Sources : Impac3.org, Le Monde
1500 people from 87 countries met at the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) that held in Marseille from 21 to 25 October 2013. The Congress has been prolonged on October, 26th and 27th, by a meeting of Ministers of 19 nations representing all the world’s oceans, around the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy in Ajaccio.
Despite the commitments made at the IMPAC2 in 2009 in Washington, the general findings on biodiversity remain a concern: a growing number of marine species listed on the IUCN Red List.
The IMPAC: a recent history
2005 : the 1st International Conference on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was held in Australia (Geelong). It is the emergence of MPAs as an essential tools for the Marine Environment Protection and the management of activities.
2009 : The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA ONMS) in Washington, organizes the IMPAC2. An edition that reflects the growing role of public agencies in the establishment and management of MPAs.
2013 : The Congress turns to Europe and the Mediterranean, known as the «AMP Lab».
The IMPAC3 participants have reiterated their commitment to achieving the objectives of the Aïchi Convention on Biological Diversity, including the objective N°11, which provides for protection by 2020 at least 10% of the oceans.
For the record, “Aichi Biodiversity Targets” (twenty in number) are the new “Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020” for the planet, adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2010. The objectives are to:
- Reduce by at least half, or where possible close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests;
- Set a goal of protecting biodiversity for 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas. Governments also undertake to restore at least 15% of degraded areas and make a special effort to reduce distressing pressures on coral reefs.
From a qualitative point of view, the Aichi targets ask for marine protected areas to be “in an ecologically representative network, well connected and effectively and equitably managed.” This is still not the case for all less than 3% of AMP: only some marine parks, reserves and other areas, vulnerable to preserve, that actually have a management plan and sufficient resources can enforce their regulations on and under water.
Yet ministers like to recall that “The health of the oceans is essential for the maintenance of life on the entire planet,” but what do they do?
“The sea is not eternal, the regulation of the High Seas is inevitable,” said the MP for Haute-Corse Paul Giacobbi (PRG), Chairman of the Board of the French Agency for Marine Protected Areas. Certainly, so what?
To create and manage “high sea” protected marine areas, substantial changes in the legal context is necessary. 64% of the oceans are beyond national jurisdiction, and the status of the high seas is the subject of international discussions. These areas are rich in biodiversity ... but also in fossil and mineral resources. The IMPAC has asked the international community (uh, who is it precisely ?) to adopt, before the end of 2014, the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations will that will launch the negotiation of an agreement to implement conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity in areas that are not covered by national courts.
One more decision to come in order to begin to consider taking relevant decisions ... and yet it seems that there is urgency...
Twenty countries have launched on this occasion an urgent appeal for the preservation of marine biodiversity and the accelerated development of Marine Protected Areas in high seas. And what will they do, when they will go back home? What are we going to do, while staying at home?
A so-so, even disappointing result
The ending Ministerial Conference has adopted a joint statement: the Message of Ajaccio that supposed to reaffirm the commitment of the signatories states to build a coherent network of MPAs, determined by scientific criteria and covering 10% of the oceans by 2020. But everyone has not signed ... And the most influential states have not signed : the United States and Canada do not want the implementation of international regulatory tools, and Japan, Norway, Iceland and Korea do not want their fishing to be limited by quotas ...
For its part, France has announced plans to spend on projects of marine environmental protection, through the French Funds for Global Environment and the French Development Agency, some € 20 million for the next two years. Three million will be dedicated to the Mediterranean, 3.7 million in West Africa, 5.5 million in the Indian Ocean (Mozambique Channel and TAAF), 1 million in the Caribbean and to 6.5 million in Pacific. Already, the Minister of Ecology announced the creation of the marine park in the Arcachon Basin.
This exchange day in Corsica was an opportunity to make emerged some new ideas. And the representative of the Government of Seychelles suggested swapping the debt of his country against the introduction of a large GPA around the archipelago. Why not? It is not known what was the answer ....
Wooden language obliges, the ministers call for dialogue with all users of the sea and the fisheries stakeholders, initiatives of civil society that support the scientific work. “They look especially to all those who could overcome the restriction of public budgets: the Global Environment Facility and other major donors. They also rely on”innovative partnerships with the private sector." But who have sufficient funds? Not NGOs environment ....
And what are the counterparts available to these sponsors?...
FRANCE : More than 20,000 tons of sea-buses and and whiting caught by amateurs in 2012
Source : AFP
Sea fishing enthusiasts are 1.3 million in France, and they have nothing to envy to the performance of professionals: in 2012, they captured some 20,400 tones of fish and shellfish - mainly sea-bass - an Ifremer study said last October, 2013.
Of these catches, three quarters were kept (the rest is returned to the water), i.e. “5% of the samples of professional fishing, with a production estimated at 310 000 tones,” said the French Research Institute for the sea exploitation.
With 9 million fishing trips per year, on a boat or from the shore, “recreational” fishermen have mainly captured sea bass (3,200 tons), followed by mackerel, pollack, squid, whiting and dorados.
According to the study conducted between 2011 and 2013, the typical fisherman is a man (73%), aged 40-64 years (more than half of them). He devoted himself mainly to his hobby in the summer and spends an average of 146 euros per year for equipment and 1,000 euros per year for his boat (only 25% of fishermen have one).
This study was conducted by the polling institute BVA, by phone, in 16,000 homes in France and a panel of 180 recreational fishermen at sea.
FRANCE : the female bear Hvala and her cubs borned in 2013 in the Pyrénées
Source : Equipe Ours - Réseau Ours Brun