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April 23, 2013

Breaking the law

© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


So there you are in your car on the highway, blasting Creedence on the stereo, wind in your hair. Everybody’s speeding a little bit; you just go with the flow. Then all of a sudden a police car shows up and instantly the average speed drops about 20 km/per hour.

Have you thought about how easily we break the law when there is nobody watching? You know ­–speeding, jaywalking, a little bottom trawling in marine protected areas?  

Recently the Swedish agency for marine and water management presented their guidelines for fishing in marine protected areas (MPA). While there is nothing really wrong with drawing up guidelines for the oceans (in fact, we strongly support them) and policy makers have been doing that for years, the problem is lack of management and control: there is no one around to enforce all the laws and guidelines. Sadly, it seems like if there are loopholes around existing laws, people will exploit them. And it’s not only Oceana’s expeditions that have time and again shown that lack of management within existing MPAs is a huge problem in the Baltic, other NGOs have come to same conclusion too.

Hopefully authorities will come to their senses soon, and stop treating MPAs like parents going away for the weekend, leaving the house in the care of their fourteen year old kid.