PlosOne, an online peer-reviewed journal, has published a paper today which concludes that coral loss can be prevented through the implementation of Marine Protected Areas.
The paper, entitled “A Global Analysis of the Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas in Preventing Coral Loss” was written by academics at North Carolina University.
Through the analysis of a global database of 8,534 live coral cover surveys from 1969–2006, the authors compared annual changes in coral cover inside 310 MPAs to coral cover inside unprotected areas. They found that on average, coral cover within MPAs remained constant, while coral cover on unprotected reefs declined.
The authors conclude that:
“These findings suggest that MPAs can be a useful tool not only for fisheries management, but also for maintaining coral cover. Furthermore, the benefits of MPAs appear to increase with the number of years since MPA establishment. Given the time needed to maximize MPA benefits, there should be increased emphasis on implementing new MPAs and strengthening the enforcement of existing MPAs.
Read the full paper online.