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Science  16 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6381, pp. 1196-1198
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6381.1196

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  • RE: Brazil to create marine reserves
    • Micheli Duarte de Paula Costa, Researcher, The University of Queensland
    • Other Contributors:
      • Anthony J. Richardson, Professor, The University of Queensland/CSIRO
      • José Henrique Muelbert, Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande
      • Morena Mills, Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London
      • Hugh P. Possingham, Professor, The University of Queensland
      • Kerrie A. Wilson, Professor, The University of Queensland

    In March 2018, Brazil has announced the creation of two new large marine protected areas (MPAs) that cover an impressive 92 million ha (1). The announcement, made during the 8th World Water Forum, takes the protected area in Brazil from a mere 1.5% to 25% of its Exclusive Economic Zone. This has won considerable plaudits in the media and internationally, with claims that Brazil has surpassed its commitment to the international Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity requiring that “at least 10% of marine and coastal areas” is protected by 2020 (2).
    Superficially Brazil’s announcement appears to represent significant progress towards protecting biodiversity, but the devil is in the detail. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets require “effectively and equitably managed ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas…”(2). Brazil encompasses a great diversity of marine environments and biodiversity from 4°N - 33°S latitude. (3). Simply increasing the oceanic area under protection, with little consideration of the ecological representativeness of the protected area network and its connectivity, does not achieve this (4, 5). Additionally, only a small portion (~12.5%) of the total area is designed as strict protection with the remainder designed as sustainable use (1). The ability of the government to enforce such remote MPAs is questionable given the lack of effective enforcement in those already established.

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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