Dr Phil Dearden of the Marine Protected Areas Research Group recently gave an opening keynote address titled “Marine Protected Areas: Anchors for Ocean Sustainability, Platforms for Community Development?” at the 5th World Ecotourism Conference, Cebu, Philippines, Feb 19-22.
The 5th World Ecotourism Conference under the theme – “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Oceans of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities” provides a strategic podium for high level ecotourism experts, proponents, practitioners, stakeholders, legislators, educators and consultants to network and share among their peers their knowledge and experiences with coastal communities in developing nations.
Experts addressed the challenges of developmental sustainability and natural vulnerabilities in coastal regions and marketing consultants examined the critical factors in sustaining ecotourism as a viable income generating enterprise. Professor Dearden, Leader of the Marine Protected Areas Research Group at the University of Victoria , Canada, in his Keynote Address reviewed the declining health of global marine ecosystems and the ecosystem services that support coastal livelihoods. One of the main tools to address these declines is marine protected areas (MPAs) if they are planned and implemented in an effective manner. MPAs can also serve to diversify and enhance coastal community livelihoods. Development of appropriate coastal ecotourism can be an important component within these improvements if planned and implemented effectively. Professor Dearden drew on his global experience in this area to illustrate some of the potential for MPAs to contribute to marine conservation and assist in enhancing coastal community livelihoods