Strict protection zones or no-take zones are marine protected areas where all types of natural resources exploitation are prohibited. People often believe that the establishment of such zones doesn’t bring any benefit to them. But years of research and numerous examples of good practice prove that people and human activities can really benefit from the establishment of effective Strict protection zones. Sea full of life means a sea full of resources for everyone.
Sea full of life is the most important benefit of strict protection zones
The most common benefits from no-take zones are relate to their ability to conserve populations of exploited species, through increases in their density, biomass, or individual sizes. The number of eggs that female fish produce increases with its size, so more abundant populations of larger fish within strict protection zones can increase reproduction. Fish in strict protection zones survive to older ages and larvae hatched from eggs spawned from older and larger individuals have a greater chance of survival and higher growth rates. Thus, fish spawned in no-take zones have a greater probability of reaching juvenile stages, meaning there is a higher probability of becoming adults.
Recovery of exploited species within no-take zones as opposed to fished areas may take as little as one to six years, but full recovery of populations to near-pristine levels may take decades. Strict protection zones can support fisheries in two ways, through “recruitment” and “spillover” effect. “Recruitment effect” refers to increase in larvae spawned in no-take zones, which are then being carried by currents outside of these areas, and then recruit and replenish populations accessible to fishers. “Spillover effect” refers to increase in number of juveniles or adults within no-take zones which then also populate the surrounding area where fishing is allowed.
Protected areas aim to improve the overall biodiversity
Because many target species are becoming scarce in fished areas, the recovery of their populations in no-take zones can enhance biodiversity of a marine ecosystem. Strict protection zones also eliminate bycatch within their boundaries, preserving stocks of many non-target species and preventing habitat damage from fishing gears. Increases in populations of target and bycatch species can also have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. Increased number of prey species also affect their prey, and even the species on which that prey feeds.
In addition to fishing, strict protection zones also support certain forms of visitation (e.g., diving), research, educational activities, etc. How effective these zones will be depending on their size, shape, connectiveness with other such nearby zones, fishing effort in the surrounding sea, surveillance, etc.
Today, 8.16% of the world’s oceans and seas are protected (WDPA/Protected Planet), but this percentage includes a whole range of protection categories, including those that allow exploitation activities. Some such areas are managed effectively, while others are paper parks. Although strict protection zones provide numerous benefits, today fishing activities are excluded from only 2.4% of the world’s oceans and seas, while only 0.59% can be considered strict protection zones (because they exclude all exploitation activities).
Protected areas in Croatia
The current marine protected areas in Croatia cover only 1.94% of territorial sea and 16.26% of the coastal sea is under ecological network. The marine area under strict protection is negligible. Association Sunce advocates for the increase of these areas, and in accordance with the EU Biodiversity Strategy (2020), which obliges member states to protect 30% of the European marine area by 2030, out of which 10% should be under strict protection (no-take zone). Therefore, Croatia faces challenging task in the years to come.
Together we can create a “Sea full of life” that will delight us with its beauty, sustainable resources, and biodiversity. Join us in our campaign FOR protected areas, share information why they are important so that we can leave a legacy that will be immensely valuable to future generations.