Marine Parks for Coastal Cities Project
The coastal zone is a place of increasingly intense human interest and activity with an estimated 44% of the global population living within 100 km of the coast. Growing coastal populations and continued economic growth have led to an increase in blue growth investments globally and in the UK resulting in a diversification of ocean uses including a rise in nature-based recreation and tourism. Alongside blue growth there has also been a sea change in societal awareness and concern for marine ecosystem vulnerabilities together with a growing appreciation and spiritual connection with the oceans.
Our project in collaboration with the University of Plymouth Marine and Coastal Policy Research Unit has developed a novel concept of a community-focused marine park that is suited to cities and powered by people. Yes, cities can have marine parks too! They are NOT a new type of marine protected area for biodiversity conservation. That doesn't imply that the marine ecosystem is unprotected. Instead, our concept of a city marine park is to encourage understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the local marine and coastal spaces leading to greater pride and community-led stewardship initiatives. We propose that a city marine park nurtures collaborations across all sectors to empower communities and businesses to invest in taking care of their local ocean space.
We advocate a marine park that is analogous to the way we care for, use and invest in our urban green spaces. Healthy and accessible blue spaces offer opportunities for improving community health. We propose that coastal cities embrace the marine space not just for its value to maritime industry and food resources, but also for broader citizen prosperity, health and well-being. Assimilate Marine Parks into the fabric of city life for healthy and vibrant sustainable living.
We define a city marine park as: an ocean and coastal space defined by local knowledge to recognise its special importance for city community prosperity, health and well-being, with the intention of encouraging greater responsible enjoyment, deepening knowledge, appreciation and respect for the marine environment.
Pittman et al. (2019) Marine parks for coastal cities: A concept for
enhanced community well-being, prosperity and sustainable city living. Marine Policy https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.02.012