World-class compliance measures to be showcased during World Parks Congress

Published: 07/11/2014

Boosting international capabilities when it comes to ensuring people stick to the rules in marine protected areas will be the key focus of a four-day workshop being held in Townsville this week.

Thirty-three international delegates from 15 countries ranging from Argentina to Madagascar, New Caledonia and Tanzania will participate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) workshop to discuss the latest innovations in management of marine protected areas worldwide.

GBRMPA general manager Andrew Skeat said communities were placing increasing value on the benefits arising from good reserve management, and with the number of marine parks increasing globally, a compliance workshop is timely.

“Having developed the Great Barrier Reef compliance program over 15 years, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has knowledge and experience to share, and we look forward to learning from the expertise of our global counterparts,” he said.

“The Great Barrier Reef compliance program, in partnership with the Queensland Government, delivers practical on-ground activities that help to maintain the functioning of our marine and island ecosystems, as well as protecting an economic base worth $5.6 billion each year.

“It is based on a framework of legislation, regulations and a permit system and includes our zoning plan which outlines what activities can occur in different parts of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“Marine protected areas around the world are vitally important for their environmental, social, economic and cultural values, and activities such as fishing in no-take areas, or overfishing, anchoring on coral or polluting the marine environment, can erode the values of these special places.

“Experts agree that good compliance occurs when the community recognises the values and purpose of marine protected areas and understands how to sustainably use and maximise the benefits flowing from these areas — education and communication are the first tools we pull out of our compliance kit, and are often the most effective.”

When activities in an area are conducted according to the rules, and people’s behaviour is appropriate, it lessens environmental impacts and protects marine and human lives.

Galapagos National Park Marine Director and workshop delegate Arturo Izurieta said the workshop would provide a timely opportunity to share ideas and learn from others faced with similar challenges.

“Like the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands are a world icon with stunning natural and cultural values,” Mr Izurieta said.

“I’m looking forward to discussing practical compliance management that can be adapted to the reality of the protected areas in the Galapagos Islands.

“The participants are coming from a wide variety of countries and they manage a diverse range of marine protected areas, so I’m eager to contribute to building the capacity of all participants by sharing knowledge and our experiences of compliance management in the Galapagos.”

The workshop will build on sponsored efforts by UNESCO and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to strengthen the capacity to manage marine areas, both large and small, and is a preliminary event to the World Parks Congress being held in Sydney from 12–19 November.

The congress is a landmark global forum on protected areas that will share knowledge and innovation and set the agenda for protected areas conservation for the next decade.

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