What is a Protected Area?
Marine protected areas and marine space protection figures
In the marine environment, the reserves and different figures for the protection of the marine space play a fundamental role in the protection of biodiversity in the littoral zone and also, although for now more scarcely, in the continental shelf and in a part of the slope.
Marine reserves are of great ecological importance, because they aim to recover an ecosystem in the short term, and preserve it in the long term. In addition, they can have a major social and economic importance, since in many protected areas traditional uses are combined, such as certain types of professional fishing, although with restrictions, with tourist uses. In protected natural spaces, species can find the necessary conditions to live and develop more calmly, which in turn favors the dispersion of new individuals to more degraded nearby areas and more subject to human pressure. But for them to be effective, protected areas must have the right dimensions and be close enough to one another to ensure the proper maintenance of the number of individuals of various species -particularly in the populations of commercially exploited organisms- that will allow of renewable and healthy populations. Although in a marine reserve does not always increase the number of species significantly, it does encourage the animals that live in it to be larger. This phenomenon is called the reserve effect.
In addition to the importance of the preservation of marine species and ecosystems, protected areas and marine reserves contribute, in the short and medium term, to the increase of the populations of many marine organisms and the productivity of the waters.
Image: Semarnat. www.gob.mx