New Marine Protected Areas Announced by Brazilian Government
The Brazilian government has this week designated two new marine protected areas, increasing the area of Brazilian waters covered from 1.5 to 24.5 per cent.
Brazil's president Michel Temer made the announcement during the 8th World Water forum taking place in Brasilia from 18 to 23 March, after a two-year campaign called 'It's the hour of the Sea', brought together by campaigners including celebrities, civil society organizations, researchers, and industry leaders. President Temer had met earlier in the week with Mission Blue's Sylvia Earl and Rodrigo Medeiros, vice president of Conservation International Brazil.
The new MPA's will cover two remote territories located over 510 nautical miles from the Brazilian coast. This includes the São Pedro and São Paulo (St Peter and St Paul) archipelagos and the submarine volcanic chain that connects the Trindade island to the Martin Vaz archipelago. The area is home to large numbers of pelagic species, including yellowfin tuna, mackerel and kingfish, an assortment of rays, octopus, 17 species of sharks, 12 species of whales and dolphins, plus green and loggerheads turtles. St Peter and St Paul is also a known hotspot for migratory whale sharks.
Approximately 358,000 square miles (930,000 sq km) has been designated as protected. 45,142 square miles encompassing the islands, seamounts and 'relevant features of the seabed' will be designated as natural heritage, and 'no-take' zones, off-limits to industrial fishing practices and mining. The remaining 312,522 square miles will be placed under sustainable use regimes, monitored by the National Biodiversity Institute and the Brazilian Navy, who are in the process of developing management plans for the new reserves.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, applauded the announcement, saying: 'This unprecedented initiative aiming at protecting almost one million square kilometres of extraordinary biological richness shows Brazil’s commitment to protect marine ecosystems and endangered unique species.'
Denise Hamú, UN Environment’s representative in Brazil, commented: 'The oceans provide us food, regulate our climate, and produce most of the oxygen in the air we breathe. Nevertheless, they are facing unprecedented threats. The protection of these marine areas translates into ecological, social and economic benefits, and is one of the best options to maintain the health of our oceans'.