Aquatic resources form the basis of food security and livelihoods for many millions of people around the world and responsible resource management is a prerequisite for sustaining their livelihoods, well-being and food security, now and in the future. Overexploitation of resources, environmental degradation, social inequities, tenure insecurity and poverty are some of the interconnected threats in the lives of many coastal and rural communities.
The use of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a tool to protect aquatic ecosystems and reverse the degradation of habitats continues to receive increasing attention. MPAs are also increasingly being promoted as a measure for addressing overfishing and unsustainable resource utilization. Spatial-temporal fishing closures, including full closures, as a management tool have a long history in fisheries and predate the current concept of MPAs for biodiversity conservation. However, for fisheries management and the promotion of sustainable use of resources, while MPAs may have a particular role in protecting habitats and some non-target species, they are only one tool among many, and are not necessarily the most effective one. Moreover, while MPAs are often nested in the environment and livelihoods of fishing communities, their contribution to and impact on these livelihoods and food security tend not to be well known.
This symposium on MPAs and food security will present a general overview of MPAs in relation to food security and what our current apparent knowledge is with regard to this topic. It will also provide views of small-scale fishing communities on how they perceive the impact of MPA on food security and livelihoods. Possible approaches and pathways for how to better ensure the contribution of MPAs to food security and sustainable livelihoods will be discussed as well as needs for improved knowledge and information in this respect.
The symposium will take the form of a panel and include presentations and panellist and open discussions. It will draw on the contents of the recently published FAO/IUCN-CEM-FEG technical paper Marine protected areas: Interactions with fishery livelihoods and food security, which builds on work presented at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress.