Feature Story

The tiny village of Ratus sits at a crossroads in central Moldova, about 60 kilometers from the capital, Chisinau.

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Belize’s marine biodiversity is characterized as being globally significant. Belize’s marine protected areas (MPAs) are home to seven United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated protected areas that make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which is also a World Heritage Site (UNESCO, 2015). The world heritage site totals 96,300 hectares (ha) and is home to over 500 species of fish, 65 scleraetinian corals, 45 hydroids, and 350 mollusks plus a great diversity of sponges, marine worms, and crustaceans.

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In Malaysia, various state and national laws protect marine sea turtles; and four species have been identified for conservation purposes. However, the once abundant leatherback turtle is now functionally extinct. The olive ridley is down to just tens of nests per year. The hawksbill hangs on precariously. Only green turtle numbers remain stable, with several hundred turtles nesting regularly at a few rookeries and some 5,000 nests annually off Sandakan, in Sabah (Borneo).

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Rodrigues is a semi-autonomous dependency of the Republic of Mauritius, situated within the Mascarene Archipelago, a recognized global biodiversity hotspot. The island is of volcanic origin and is encompassed by an extensive fringing reef, with a wide shallow lagoon that covers an area of 240 km2. Fisheries are a vital source of employment, income and subsistence livelihoods in Rodrigues and play an important role in the local culture and traditions, and therefore their sustainable management is a priority.

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Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest inland fresh water sanctuary. It hosts more than 300 endemic fish species, produces more than 300,000 tons of fish, and supports domestic, artisanal and agricultural activities. Lake Victoria’s fishing sector generates US$ 300-400 million a year and provides a source of livelihood for three million people (Kayombo and Jorgensen, 2005). However, the lake is also a destination for local waste and sewage disposal.

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In March 2003, the Government of Sabah announced its approval of the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), a marine area covering 1.02 million hectares in the northern part of Sabah. The marine protected area (MPA) was previously known as the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area, and is one of the priority areas identified under the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) as being globally significant for its high biodiversity and rich natural resources.

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Belitung is a small archipelago situated on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. It comprises one main island and several small islands, and is part of Bangka Belitung Islands Province. Due to its rich deposits of tin, Belitung experienced the development of a massive tin mining business that started in the colonial period around the 1850s. The expansion of mining activities on the island led to rapid environmental degradation, eventually damaging 80% of the mangrove forest in Selat Nasik Coast, and producing negative impacts on the livelihoods of the local fisher folks.

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All ecosystems can absorb a certain amount of change, yet still remain functional. However, beyond a certain threshold, loss of biodiversity and disruption of ecosystem functioning has negative impacts on biodiversity and the flow of ecosystem services, with serious consequences for human well-being and livelihoods. Disrupted ecosystems, and the people who depend on them, are more vulnerable to shocks and disturbances, such as those caused by climate change.

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The marine protected areas of Turkey do not only protect marine biodiversity, but also provide secure sources of food and income for coastal communities through activities such as tourism and fishing. In some areas, income from fishing is a significant part of household income, which makes the introduction of ‘no-take’ fishing zones (NFZ) through restriction or banning of fishing, a challenging task. But, this is exactly what the members of fishing cooperatives in the Gökova and Datça-Bozburun SEPAs have agreed to do.

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To strengthen its capacity for effective management of its marine heritage, the Government of Belize has engaged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as co-management partners of many of its protected areas. These NGOs have attracted significant funding to invest in the protection and sustainable use of the country’s marine resources. They have also facilitated active participation of local communities and other stakeholders (such as commercial tourism operators) as custodians and co-managers of the marine protected areas within the World Heritage Site.

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