Aichi target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity calls for nations to protect 10% of their marine environment by 2020. However national progress towards to global conservation targets can only be assessed when the data employed are sound. This note recently published in the journal Marine Policy highlights the large-scale misrepresentation, by up to two orders of magnitude, of national marine protected area coverage from two Pacific island nations, Tonga and Kiribati, in multiple online databases and subsequent reports. In Tonga, the Ha’apai Conservation Area is listed as a 10,000km2 protected area, although there is clear evidence that it has been inactive for over 15 years. The Phoenix Island protected area in Kiribati covers 400,000km2, although an error in the World Database of Protected Areas resulted in a doubling of this figure. These errors have led to incorrect reporting of both nations contribution to Aichi target 11, which is cause for concern as conservation efforts may cease if target appear to have been met. While protected area extend alone is insufficient to measure the impact of conservation, we suggest that if the target driven approach is to have any value there needs to be a greater degree of accountability in maintaining accurate records of protected area coverage.
Published by Patrick Smallhorn-West
Patrick is a PhD student supervised by Bob Pressey, Geoff Jones, Tom Bridge and Georgina Gurney. His thesis examines the efficacy of community-based marine management in the Kingdom of Tonga and the overall health status of their coral reefs. View all posts by Patrick Smallhorn-West