MPAs: Our Best Chance to Recover Fisheries

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are clearly defined areas in oceans and coastal areas which are protected from human activity as they have been recognized as crucial spawning and nursery grounds for marine life and ecosystems.

Under effective management, MPAs create a safe environment where marine life can flourish and reproduce. By safeguarding marine life from human activity, these designated zones enable growth and development by providing shelter, food resources, and breeding grounds without the threat of overfishing or habitat degradation. As fish and invertebrates grow larger and more abundant within the MPA, and space becomes limited, individuals start to migrate outside the boundaries of the MPA. This outward movement contributes to the replenishment of fish populations in surrounding areas, benefiting local fishers by sustainably replenishing their stocks from the protected population. This phenomenon is known as the ‘spill-over effect’.

Effectively managed MPAs over the long term have proven to facilitate sustainable socio-economic development. In many places around the world, they enhance the lives of fishermen, by increasing fisheries around them, allowing fishermen to have more fish yield. If an effective network of MPAs is established covering 30% of Lebanon’s sea, it will ensure that marine resources are continuously restocked, improving the livelihood of more than 100,000 local community members depending on these resources across the country.

In pursuit of this goal, IndyACT is working with the Palm Island Nature Reserve (PINR), with the support of MedPAN, to “Strengthening PINR’s Role as a Fisheries Management Tool”. This initiative aims to enhance and strengthen the management and enforcement capabilities of the PINR in Tripoli to showcase how MPAs can be used as effective tools for fisheries management. Although this has proven in other countries and across the Mediterranean, particularly in the Côte Bleue Marine Park in France and the Apo Island Reserve in the Philippines, resulting in stable and a ten-fold increase in catches in surrounding areas, this will mark the first instance of showcasing this approach in Lebanon.

Upon completing the project, we hope that PINR will serve as a demonstrative project, advocating for the widespread adoption of MPAs as a fisheries management tool among all relevant stakeholders in Lebanon, adding to the economic recovery of the country.