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GEO Year Book 2004/5  
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Theme: COASTAL AND MARINE AREAS

Issue: Unsustainable use of living marine resources
Indicators: Marine capture
Marine Protected Areas as percentage of Large Marine Ecosystem areas

Marine capture

The catch of living marine resources (fish, crustaceans and molluscs) is an indication of human pressure on marine ecosystems and their environmental sustainability. In 2002, reported global marine capture totalled about 84.5 million tonnes of fish, crustaceans and molluscs (Figure 10). This is a little higher than the average for the period since 1990 when the catch began to oscillate around the figure of 83 million tonnes (FAO 2004).

Figure 10: Catch of living marine resources (million tonnes) by region and global, 1970–2002

Source: GEO Data Portal, compiled from FAO 2004

Marine Protected Areas as percentage of Large Marine Ecosystem areas

Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are regions of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundaries of continental shelves and the outer margins of the major current systems. They are relatively large regions of between 221 324 km2 (Gulf of California) up to 6 429 232 km2 (Arctic Ocean) in extent, and are characterised by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations. On a global scale, the 64 LMEs account for 95 per cent of the world's annual marine fishery biomass yields and most of the ocean pollution. Resource harvesting and pollution have led to severe coastal habitat degradation.

Although significantly increased in number and surface area over the last decades (Figures 11 and 12), marine areas remain under-represented in the global protected area system (Chape and others 2003). However, the share of protected areas in marine ecosystems and ocean zones has doubled since 1990 and now amounts to 1.6 per cent of the total LME area, or almost 73 million km2. The level of protection within LMEs varies significantly. For example, in the Northeast Australian Shelf 26.7 per cent of the 1 285 097 km2 is protected, mainly due to the substantial area that has been devoted to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. In the Indonesian Sea, an equally important marine ecosystem area, only 1.1 per cent out of 2 269 581 km2 is protected (Spalding and others in press).

Figure 11: Protected areas coverage of Large Marine Ecosystems in1990

Source: GEO Data Portal, compiled from UNEP-WCMC 2004

Figure 12: Protected areas coverage of Large Marine Ecosystems in 2004

Source: GEO Data Portal, compiled from UNEP-WCMC 2004

 


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