Marine Protected Areas
Importance of MPAs
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a governed body of water that limits human activity to ensure the welfare of aquatic environments and their inhabitants. They can act synergistically to fulfil a variety of ecological aims and are often organised into zones of differing levels of protection. It is thought that establishing networks of marine reserves globally, will ensure the long-term health of our oceans by enabling ecosystems to reverse widespread declines on resident and key species.
Recently, MPAs have increasingly been seen as a tool to protect the global marine environment through their ability to enhance biodiversity and abundance by monitoring fisheries through enforced and regulated management (Roberts et al., 2005; Salomon et al., 2012).
The aim of my Masters Research was to utilise innovative advances in technology to determine the efficacy of reserve protection on commercially valuable species in Italy's first Marine Protected Area, Ustica. The establishment of marine reserves such as Ustica are important for understanding long term conservation and fisheries effects on the local ecosystems. Here, I utilised BUV as an alternative method to traditional survey techniques such as Underwater Visual Census (UVC) to study marine reserve effects. I worked in partnership with the University of Palermo and the Ustica MPA whilst a a student at the University of Portsmouth, U.K.