Caption: Freediver, Ai Futaki, swimming with a school of bumphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia Image © Jason Isley/Scubazoo
The term “marine protected area”, or MPA, is bandied about quite a lot. It’s a very broad definition, though, often used to refer to anything from a place that is simply not supposed to be fished but where little effective enforcement takes place, to a well patrolled area that is completely restricted to anything but scientific exploration. But well managed MPAs are places where life flourishes, spilling out into surrounding waters to help replenish the oceans as a whole.
Dive tourism is providing economic incentives for governments to start declaring more protection for marine ecosystems and species. If we keep putting our money where it counts, experiencing for ourselves areas where life is safeguarded and conservation measures are succeeding, and going on to raise awareness about the need to protect our oceans, then we can be an incredible force for helping to save the seas.
Here are just some of the literally hundreds of MPAs in Asia Pacific, that, as divers, should be on your radar. These are places where the diving is off the chain, and we have conservation organisations to thank for it.