Application of environmental risk assessment in the sustainability of marine protected areas (Case study: Nayband Marine National Park)

Document Type : Research Paper


Establishing Marine protected areas (MPAs) is one of the most important approaches in biodiversity protection and fishery management. Coastal marine environments are facing with numerous threatening factors. Therefore having a comprehensive assessment of multiple risks faced with socio-economic dimensions of marine protected areas is crucial and this should be integrated in ecological research for management of these areas. Environmental risk assessment is the process of examining stressors factors and exposure to these factors. Chemical and non-chemical stress factors should be taken into consideration in a comprehensive risk assessment. In addition, socio-economic aspects have been integrated to other factors in risk assessment process of marine protected area.
The purpose of this study is to identify, evaluate and rank stressors of marine protected areas. Hence, Nayband marine national park was selected as a case study. This area has a high biodiversity and natural beauty that is threatens by high pollution and over capacity exploitation by different organizations. Therefore, the environmental risk assessment and management is essential in this national park. This study was carried out by field visit, interview with Bushehr's department of environment staff and residents around the park.
Pressure-state-response framework has been used for conceptualizing risk analysis and risk management issues in this study. An environmental issue is divided into five parts by DPSIR model. (D) Represents Driving forces which indicate the social, economic, human and climatic conditions, these forces produce biological, chemical and physical pressures (P) Pressures are tensions that produces by human on environment. (S) State shows the condition of the environment. (I) Impact indicates environmental degradation like loss value of fishery. (R) Responses are measures by decision-makers to respond to environmental issues.
In this study, we used integrated framework from integration of multilayer DPSIR model and current approach of ecological risk assessment. This has been archived in four major steps a) identifying potential threats,b) data collection,c) data classification and d) ranking risks. In the first step, potential threats such as maritime transportation, fishing and land-based marine pollution was investigated. In the second step, environmental and socio-economic factors that are associated with potential threats were identified. In The third step, we established a multi-layered framework to explain causal relationships between ecological interactions and socio-economic development. The data is classified into five categories in the DPSIR ring based on causal relationship. In the fourth step, the identification and ranking criteria, taking into account the risk of environmental threats and their consequences. Ranking for each criterion was conducted by a team of experts based on the principle of quality of each index and weight of evidence. Each indicator was allocated a qualitative score of very low (VL), low (l), medium (M), high (H) and very high (VH) based on the “Seven Rapid Ranking Criteria” for MPA management. The risk quotient (RQ) was applied as the quantitative ERA approach to determine if measured levels of chemicals in the target waters and sediments were likely to cause harms to local MPAs. This coefficient is calculated by comparing measured environmental concentrations (MECs) with predicted no effects concentrations (PNECs) to obtain the RQs (RQ = MEC / PNEC). If RQ < 1 the assumed risk (the risk of adverse effects) is Low. If RQ ≥ 1, the risk is high and a large proportion of adverse effects increases with RQ.
Indicators related to the driving forces are divided in two major groups: coastal marine pollution and land use change. The most important risk factors in the study area is the South Pars Special Economic Energy Zone activities adjacent to the western side of the park and its further development along the park's northeastern activities of Phase 12 and 13 of South Pars as well as 8 petrochemical units that emit 5 to 6 tons of caustic soda per day into the study area. Gas and petrochemical industries are very close to coast of the Persian Gulf. Other factors are land use change, development and construction of roads, border military activity causing severe disturbance the hydrological system in mangrove habitats. The population is another risk factor, based on the population census in the year 1390, the population growth's rate is 11.3 percent, which is one the highest rate growth in Iran. The results from study of geochemical pollution Muller (Ipoll) and pollution KARBASI (Igeo) show heavy metals (except lead) in surface sediments are in standard ranges. By comparing these results with the international quality standards sediments (SQGs) shows that cadmium and copper deposits are none pollutant, nickel and lead are in the middle range of pollution. Mangroves have some level of cadmium and copper pollution .lead has severe contamination based on geochemical index. Oil and gas pollutions are decreasing water quality and sediment degradation in Nayband. Proximity to oil and gas facilities in Assaluyeh, Taheri oil terminal and passage of oil tankers produced heavy metal pollution.
The results showed that nickel and lead, have RQ ≥ 1(high risk level) and Copper and Cadmium in low risk level RQ Swimming, richness and the costs of waste collection are impact indicators. There are 23 coli forms per 100 ml in the water of study area, which indicates low risk to quality standards of Swimming. The bird's species richness in the National Park keeps declining. Annual waste collection fee has been estimated to be $ 1,400.
Response's indices include wastewater treatment programs, environmental legislation and scientific support. Unfortunately, Nayband National Marine Park does not have any comprehensive program for wastewater treatment and effluent disposal system. The lack of protective measures, shortage of mangers in four sections of the park including protection, education, research and recreation has been observed in this study area. The number of scientific papers related to this study area, there are only 4 scientific articles and 3 conference papers found about this study area. It is suggested that the scientific community needs more attention and consideration to Iran's first marine national park.
This study showed that there is a practical limit in the application of conceptual models; these models are very abstract and general. The results reveals that indicator with high degree of risk are docks, channels and harbors, oil platforms and terminals, refineries activities, land use changes, sediment quality, oil pollution, air pollution, environmental sensitive areas and biodiversity. Degradation of these factors can occur due to the industrial area pollution of South Pars in its upstream, inappropriate use of capacity and conversion of land by different organizations. In order to maintain the integrity of outstanding ecosystems and valuable Nayband marine national park and its educational and recreational value we need to take into account measures and strategies to control and reduce the marine national park environmental risks.


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