Recommendations from the Coral Reef Management Issues Workshop, November 2003

19/02/2004


Recommendations from the Coral Reef Management Issues Workshop

Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands

UNESCO, Paris, 10 to 14 November 2003

Coral reefs of the world, and associated wetlands, mangrove forests and seagrass beds and their fisheries, have continued to decline since the World Summit in 1992 from increasing human activities across many sectors, including: land-based activities; over- and damaging exploitation; unsustainable development on reefs; and global change.

These losses are particularly impacting on the livelihoods and economies of developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The WSSD recognised these problems and established the following tools and targets pertinent to coral reefs: the ecosystem approach; networks of MPAs by 2012; the elimination of destructive fishing practices and achieving sustainable fisheries; international, regional and national programs of action to protect marine biodiversity; significant reduction in biodiversity loss by 2010; and targeted implementation of the Washington GPA.

We recognise that coral reef MPAs provide good models for conserving tropical marine biodiversity and developing sustainable fisheries, and for enhancing resilience in the face of global climate change, because coral reefs are regarded as icons for conservation by many governments, and the public and private sectors. Other encouraging signs are strengthened activities in establishing coral reef protected areas e.g. by the World Heritage and Ramsar Conventions, a new focus on cold water coral reefs, and the development of coordination mechanisms. However, these activities are proving to be insufficient and we conclude that multi-sectoral approaches are necessary to address these targets and achieve the wider WSSD goals on food security, sustainable livelihoods and water resource management.

We recommend that countries and organisations should adopt integrated approaches to halt and reverse the decline of coral reef ecosystems through: further implementing the ICRI Calls for Action; developing networks of MPAs; and providing adequate financial resources.

Partnerships and Coordination:

We recommend that countries and coral reef partners:

a. strengthen participation of developing countries, especially SIDS, organisations, NGOs and the civil society in achieving the objectives of ICRI and operational networks;
b. improve co-operation and co-ordination with relevant MEAs and the NGO community;
c. develop or strengthen national and regional Coral Reef Task Forces to involve all stakeholders to co-ordinate sectoral activities; and
d. promote and strengthen partnerships, information exchange and participatory stakeholder approaches e.g. via ICRAN, and involvement in integrated partnerships such as the GPA and WW2BW.

Management Tools:

We recommend that countries and coral reef partners:

a. develop networks of larger MPAs based on scientific assessment to ensure sustainability;
b. ensure that national legislation facilitates community-based resource management and effective enforcement mechanisms;
c. encourage governments to participate in co-management of MPAs and coastal areas with local communities, NGOs and the private sector;
d. provide tools on best management practices and develop appropriate technologies; and
e. provide MPA case studies and demonstration sites for peer-to-peer exchanges illustrating economic benefits from sustainable fisheries and tourism.

Monitoring and Research:

There is a need for improved monitoring and research for better decision making, thus communities and countries are advised to:

a. develop and strengthen capacity in marine science targeting coral reefs and related ecosystems;
b. expand monitoring, information gathering and data management via greater involvement in GCRMN, Reef Check and ReefBase;
c. implement research to prioritise MPA sites that have maximum resilience against global change impacts.

Thus, we request that the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, and ICRI and partners in particular, promote these recommendations at the following global fora:

a. East Asian Seas Congress in Malaysia in December 2003;
b. CBD COP 7 meeting in February 2004 in Malaysia;
c. 10th International Coral Reef Symposium in Okinawa June, July 2004;
d. SIDS meeting in Mauritius, August 2004 with a view to a Ministerial event on coral reefs;
e. IUCN World Conservation Congress in Thailand, November 2004.

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