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An unsuspected economic engine: Marine Protected Areas

2018-11-05
McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are set to cover more of the maritime space. Both the UN and the EU require that countries set aside sufficient areas of their seas for biodiversity conservation.

But is this yet another cost for people making a living from the sea? Quite the contrary. A brand-new Commission study finds that marine protected areas can generate unforeseen, but tangible economic benefits.

Even though scientific evidence is scarce, anecdotal evidence is abundant, including statements by blue businesses themselves. It all points to a profusion of new jobs and new business opportunities around MPAs.

Fisheries and tourism are indeed rich with such positive examples - and with success stories, in fact, which hinge on the very existence of the local protected area to begin with. But the study also found examples of business benefits for sectors like aquaculture, blue biotechnology and even passenger shipping. Not to mention, of course, the jobs generated by the MPA itself: for its daily management, for scientific monitoring and for consulting with engineering companies to restore coastal and marine habitats.

Through ten case studies, the new study reveals a wide spectrum of benefits for the local economic operators and communities, sometimes backed up by precise econometric data. What's more, it uncovers practical real-life 'tips and tricks' on how to enforce, how to fund and how to govern an MPA and really make it work for itself and for the community.

Funded by the European Commission, the new study on "Economic Benefits of Marine Protected Areas and Spatial Protection Measures", provides valuable lessons and ideas for anyone involved in MPAs and will undoubtedly raise awareness and acceptance of marine protected areas.

 
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