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Ocean Health Index Film Festival: MPAs

We open our first-ever “Ocean Health Index” Film Festival with a selection of three shorts on marine protected areas (MPAs). These films show the faces and voices behind MPAs around the world. The stories highlight the fact that marine protection is not about restricting fishing—it’s about managing fisheries, so  people who depend on the sea can continue to fish for food and livelihood.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of “working” MPAs…

The Pacific Oceanscape is the world's largest integrated conservation and ocean management initiative by area.  Under this framework, fifteen Pacific Island nations work together to manage their vast ocean territories, which make up around 10 percent of the world’s ocean surface. In 2006, President Anote Tong of Kiribati led the way by establishing the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the world’s largest protected area at the time. Last year, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia followed with announcements of hundreds of miles more of protected water. The region includes the crucial spawning grounds for highly-sought species like tuna. 

“Field Chronicles: The Pacific Oceanscape” was produced and photographed in March-April 2011 by the Studio team at Conservation International, composed of Peter Stonier, John Martin, Becca Field and Sebastian Perry. Stonier says that working with the people of the Pacific Islands was immensely rewarding, and “if we had thrown the film away, the trip was still worth it because of its value in building relationships.”

Scientists refer to the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines as the “center of the center” of global marine biodiversity. The country’s waters are home to diverse coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves that provide homes for more than 2,000 species of tropical fish and marine organisms. This rich marine life in turn provides more than 50% of all protein for the country, and livelihoods for two million fishermen and their families.

Today, overfishing is the leading threat to this important marine ecosystem. Less than five percent of the Philippines’ coral reef ecosystems remain in pristine health, and many fisheries are down to a mere 10% its condition just 50 years ago.

This 2011 video offers a glimpse of the grassroots campaigns that Rare has launched with its local partners at 12 important sites in the Philippines to set up Marine protection areas. The cooperation of the community is key--as one man says, “it’s really important, if people own the (MPA), they will protect it-- they will die for it.”  Produced and edited by David Bellard, Creative Director, Rare.

Cocos Island National Park, located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is an uninhabited spot of land ringed by some of the most shark-rich waters anywhere.  The park is also home to three species of sea turtles, 50 species of mollusks, more than 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, and 250 species of fish, including yellowfin tuna, white-tip and hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, sailfish, and giant manta rays. Among the marine mammals found at Cocos Island National Park are humpback whales, sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins. 

Costa Rica declared Cocos Island a national park in 1978, and it was established as an official marine protected area (MPA) in 1982. The MPA covers 2,095 square kilometers (809 square miles).

Illegal fishing is still the largest threat to the habitats of the MPA, driven by demand around the world for seafood like tuna and shark fin soup. Footage provided by National Geographic Society.  Produced & written by Martha Conboy; edited by Jamie Pickell.