Diving for Marine Protected Areas – 2015

(Published in Suomen Luonto -magazine in 2015.)

(This article was born by accident. We were visiting the Milan World Expo 2015, carrying the theme ”Feeding the Planet”. My plan was to interview an Italian expert on acroecology, but he didn´t show up in the Italian pavilion. There were other representatives, however, who presented Italian nature conservation. So I ended up writing a brief story about this interesting theme, the marine protected areas and scientific diving.)

Marine protected areas benefit both biodiversity and the local economies through tourism and fisheries. This conclusion of a recent study by Amsterdam´s VU University gets confirmation also from Italy.

Research diver Gianfranco Mazza (on the left), Italy, presenting marine protected areas MPAs. Photo: Seppo Leinonen

Research diver Gianfranco Mazza (on the left) with his workmates from the Italian nature conservation administration. Italy has 30 marine protected areas. Photo: Seppo Leinonen

The 2400 hectare MPA Plemmirio near Siracusa, Sicily, is one of Italy´s 30 MPAs, designed to show the wonders of the sea also to children and handicapped. It is a popular diving site with an extraordinary submerged seabed, ancient caves and rich sea life.

Scientific diver Gianfranco Mazza compares the species, size and number of fish in Plemmirio´s no-take-zone to comparison zones. – Thus we can certify that fish breeds well in the no-take-zone and this strengthens the fish stocks also in the surrounding areas.

Recreation and artisan fishing are allowed in the B-zone, and also commercial fishing is possible in the C-zone.

– Diving schools and diving tourism are very important for marine conservation. Divers are the first ones to see and tell others about the richness and the changes of the sea.

There are currently 6500 MPAs in the world, covering about 2 percent of the oceans. About half of the total has been declared no-take-zones to enhance biodiversity and benefit sea life.

Marine protected areas in Italy

Marine protected areas in the world (atlas)

Text: Auli Kilpeläinen
Photo: Seppo Leinonen

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