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If MPAs and the ecosystems and species within them had a legal right to be healthy and managed well, what effect would this have on sites? According to a campaign that proposes such legal rights, one outcome would be the end of the problem of paper parks. In other words, by allowing citizens to sue their governments on behalf of poorly managed or underfunded MPAs, this would provide a powerful new means to pressure agencies to manage their sites more effectively.

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By Juan E. Bezaury-Creel, Francisco Ursúa-Guerrero, César Sánchez-Ibarra, and David Gutiérrez-Carbonell

The Revillagigedo National Park was designated by Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on 27 November 2017, exactly one hundred years after the country´s first national park was created. Revillagigedo is now continental North America´s largest fully protected MPA, covering 148,087 km² – almost twice the size of Panama. No fishing activities, mining, or oil extraction will be allowed within the national park, and only strictly regulated marine tourism activities from liveaboards will be permitted.

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Three years ago, Chris Cvitanovic and a team of researchers published a study that found that only 14% of the information cited in MPA management plans was from primary scientific sources – from journals, in other words. One reason for this shortfall was that most journal articles require expensive subscriptions, which managers and their agencies cannot afford. This study was the first to document a significant obstacle for MPA managers: management is supposed to be science-based, but most of the science is hidden behind paywalls.

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Much of what we learn – in the MPA field and in life in general – comes to us informally. We receive advice from a colleague, we figure out something ourselves, or we see what works through trial and error. This kind of knowledge can be invaluable. In our November issue, MPA News asked practitioners what they wished they had known when they got started in MPAs. We are continuing to ask that question.

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The subantarctic ecosystems of the French Southern Lands (Terres australes françaises, or TAF) consist of several small island groups and their surrounding waters in the southern Indian Ocean. None are permanently inhabited by humans. The ecosystems are relatively unique by virtue of their location and isolation, and are viewed as particularly vulnerable to pressures, from fishing to climate change. Nonetheless, the remoteness has historically made researching, surveilling, and supplying the areas a challenge, leaving data gaps.

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Contest: “Most Beautiful Office”

MPA News’ “Most Beautiful Office” contest continues! Some MPA managers, planners, and conservationists work in relatively plain office buildings – but others work in beachfront villas, or on-the-water ranger stations, or in an actual royal castle. Do you work in a beautiful office? If so, please send us a photo! We will print entries in MPA News and invite readers to vote in our February 2018 issue. The winner will be named “Most Beautiful MPA Office in the World” and receive a limited-edition MPA News tote bag.

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Much of what we learn – in the MPA field and in life in general – is not from formal education. It comes from learning it ourselves, or receiving advice from a colleague, or simply trial and error. This kind of knowledge is often difficult to find anywhere else.

In the 18 years that MPA News has been in publication, we have asked practitioners for lessons learned, and practices developed. We have published numerous tips on how to work more efficiently or effectively. But we have not asked you for the most fundamental, essential advice you have gained from your work.

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