April 2007 (8:9)

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A summit meeting this month in Washington, DC (USA), is intended to set priorities and future directions for global MPA management. The meeting on 10-12 April will bring together members of the marine program of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA - Marine) to agree on a plan to support and partner with existing MPA initiatives worldwide.

WCPA is the world's leading body of protected area expertise, with more than 1200 members in 140 countries. Members include government officials, site managers, scientists, NGO representatives, and others. The mission of WCPA - Marine is to promote the establishment of a global, representative system of effectively managed and lasting networks of MPAs.

Although the April summit will focus on regional and global planning, it carries implications for site-level MPA managers as well, says Dan Laffoley, Vice Chair of the WCPA - Marine program. This month, MPA News talks with Laffoley about the summit, why it is important, and what to expect from it.

MPA News: Considering the regional and global focus of the meeting, why should site-level managers pay attention to what happens at the WCPA - Marine summit this month?

Laffoley: The objective of the summit is to work together as a global MPA alliance to determine priorities and future directions under the umbrella of WCPA - Marine. That focus will help us devise how we will rise as a global community to the new challenges that face our oceans, including climate change. To develop and agree on those priorities, as a first step, the summit brings together an influential set of MPA leaders from around the world. For those who cannot attend the summit, we have also created an interactive website to input their views [see box at the end of this article, "New listserv and website on MPA management to be launched in April"].

From the perspective of individual MPA managers, this process means they have the opportunity to become part of a community of practice - a global network of experts. MPA managers can contribute and benefit from the global network, share experiences on dealing with financing, climate change, fisheries ministries, spatial planning tools, etc., as a virtual community. The ultimate objective is to provide MPA practitioners with new tools, greater access to experience, knowledge, and new initiatives where needed.

The summit is structured around a small set of common priorities that WCPA - Marine may be best placed to focus on, either directly or (usually) in strong partnership with others. These are priorities that need to be addressed to make greater progress with implementing MPAs and MPA networks beyond the remit and reach of individual organizations. Most of these we, as the global MPA community, have a considerable stake in resolving ourselves. My aim throughout is to use WCPA - Marine to add support and value to existing MPA initiatives and celebrate those efforts, rather than duplicate or dilute them.

The seven areas that the Summit will focus on are:

  • The WCPA - Marine "Wet List" concept: a new annual report on the state of the art in marine conservation;
  • MPA networks: Providing best practice guidance for building MPA networks, with regional implementation support;
  • Climate change and MPAs: Developing adaptation and mitigation approaches;
  • Marine species information: Improving coherence between species assessments and MPA management;
  • MPA effectiveness: Improving the achievement of MPA goals, with an emphasis on marine World Heritage and Ramsar sites;
  • Fisheries management and MPAs: Identifying clear messages and global priorities for combining these concepts when useful; and
  • Integrating the concepts of MPAs, ecosystem-based management, and marine spatial planning.

MPA News: What is the significance of the Wet List?

Laffoley: The Wet List is the next generation of A Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, the 1995 four-volume set on MPAs published by IUCN. It is planned to be online, interactive, update-able annually, and widely disseminated in various formats. It will enable us to track progress toward meeting the 2012 goal of the World Summit on Sustainable Development - i.e., that representative networks of MPAs be established worldwide by the year 2012 [MPA News 4:3]. This global synthesis will be the MPA community's annual report card, our end-of-year report. It will serve to focus and maintain attention on marine conservation and provide opportunities for MPAs and networks to be recognized as successes. The Wet List will also serve to identify priority sites and biomes that require more attention, and direct donor resources to those areas. A key element of this new approach will be to ensure that data on MPAs is up-to-date, widely available, and freely accessible.

MPA News: The purpose of the WCPA is to complement and support ongoing work by key players on protected areas, not to dictate policy. Can you provide examples of that complementary role?

Laffoley: Our goal is to ensure that the whole MPA picture and delivery is greater than the sum of its parts. A good example is the summary guidebook on best practice for building MPA networks, which we will launch at the summit. This publication draws from existing experience on establishing MPAs around the world, and stems from discussions held at earlier global conferences, including the 5th IUCN World Parks Congress in 2003. A full technical report on MPA networks is also being developed for launch later this year to provide more best practice advice, illustrative case studies, and information on funding options. Alongside this guidance, we are also developing a self-assessment checklist to assist national and regional authorities in determining progress in establishing MPA networks. Thus by drawing from existing experience and compiling this into best practice, we are complementing current actions on MPAs and helping those less advanced to learn from others.

For more information:
Dan Laffoley, Natural England, Northmister House, Peterborough, PE1 1UA, UK. Tel: +44 1733 455234; E-mail: dan.laffoley [at] naturalengland.org.uk

Box: New listserv and website on MPA management to be launched in April

WCPA - Marine is launching a listserv in April to enable MPA practitioners worldwide to communicate directly with each other on MPA management. This new discussion forum is intended to build on enthusiasm stemming from the first International Marine Protected Area Congress held in Geelong, Australia, in 2005. To join the WCPA - Marine listserv, e-mail your full contact details to wcpa.impac [at] btinternet.com. (As WCPA - Marine is a volunteer network, offers of support for the development and maintenance of this listserv are welcome, and may be mentioned in your e-mail.)

The listserv will be the first one available in several years that is dedicated to global MPA management. A listserv is an automatic mailing list server: when e-mail is addressed to the mailing list, it is broadcast to everyone on the list. (MPA News is a electronic newsletter rather than a listserv.)

WCPA - Marine has also launched an interactive website through which MPA practitioners can give feedback on priorities discussed at the summit meeting, review the agenda, and see a list of participants. The website is http://groups.google.com/group/wcpamarine-summit/web.

Box: Do you know your WCPA - Marine regional coordinator?

Your WCPA - Marine regional coordinator is responsible for overseeing implementation of WCPA - Marine priorities in your geographic region and communicating those priorities to MPA practitioners. Contact information for regional coordinators is available at http://www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/biome/marine/contacts.html.

The UK Government released a White Paper on 15 March that sets out an integrated suite of proposals for a new holistic approach to managing the nation's marine activities. The document, titled A Sea Change: A Marine Bill White Paper, proposes introduction of a marine planning system for UK waters, a new mechanism for protecting natural resources through marine protected areas, and other measures. It is intended to help achieve the Government's vision of "clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse oceans and seas."

The proposals in the White Paper take account of feedback from stakeholders on an earlier (2006) consultation that posed a range of options. The White Paper proposals are now open for public comment until 8 June 2007. The Government has not yet announced whether it will introduce the proposed legislation in the next parliamentary session, beginning this November, or later in this Parliament.

The proposals do not specifically use the word "zoning" to describe their overall aim, and provide only an outline for future public processes to plan UK marine regions; there are no details on what such plans would look like in practice. However, the planning system may use a range of techniques, some of which could be interpreted as zoning, to try to steer or guide the use of different parts of UK waters. These techniques, and marine planning generally, would be applied following a strategic rather than prescriptive approach. Decisions about whether specific activities could proceed would remain a matter for other controls, such as the process of assessing and issuing licenses.

The paper discusses the need to strike a balance between competing uses of marine space, and Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said upon release of the White Paper that it would "provide a simplified and strategic approach to deciding what goes where in the sea." The proposals call for most marine activities to be subject to assessment and consent procedures, through a streamlined and simplified licensing regime.

Protected areas would play a significant role in the marine planning process. The White Paper proposes the designation of a network of MPAs that "effectively conserves marine biodiversity" in UK waters by 2020. This network would include Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), a new term coined in the White Paper to describe MPAs designated for biodiversity conservation under the Marine Bill. MCZs would have a range of objectives, such as avoiding deterioration of a habitat from its current conservation condition; maintaining or enhancing current population levels of a particular species; or restoring or enabling the recovery of a habitat to a good condition. The network would likely involve some no-take areas, as the White Paper states the network is expected to include "highly protected sites."

Seafish, the UK's cross-industry seafood body, says the proposed framework overall would "put the UK among the world's most progressive administrations in marine environmental management," but advises that a new network of MPAs must be proportionate to ecological need, and that management restrictions inside those MPAs apply fairly to all sectors. The UK Offshore Operators Association, the representative body for offshore oil and gas producers, said in a press release that it supports the concept of a UK-wide system of marine planning as a means of providing greater certainty to business planning.

Melissa Moore of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), an NGO, says the White Paper proposals would represent only a bare minimum in terms of ecosystem protection, citing language in the White Paper that the MPA network cover "as small an area as necessary." She would like to see greater political will in favor of conservation. "MCS would like to see a commitment within the bill to protect 30% of UK representative habitats within highly protected areas by 2020," she says.

Angela Moffat of Natural England, the Government's statutory advisory body on nature conservation in England, says legislation based on the proposals would likely receive cross-party support in Parliament, but would be a complicated and novel piece of legislation. "Part of the complexity is that it is attempting to legislate across devolved governments within the UK," she says. "The main threat to the Marine Bill is that there may be insufficient time available in Parliament for the Bill's passage before the next general election, and the Bill may not be a priority for any subsequent government."

The Marine Bill White Paper, as well as a regulatory impact assessment and a letter to stakeholders inviting their comments, are all available online athttp://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/marinebill-whitepaper07/index.htm.

Editor's note: Anne Walton is coordinator of the International MPA Management Capacity Building Program, managed by the (US) National Marine Sanctuary Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

By Anne Walton

Many MPA managers and policy makers, including local and indigenous communities, have insufficient access to information and guidelines coming out of science, traditional knowledge, and field experience to manage MPAs effectively. In the past there has been little opportunity to share what seasoned resource managers have learned from their own experience with other managers and staff.

The International MPA Management Capacity Building Program provides a framework for resource managers to come together, share lessons learned, and improve management effectiveness. Managed by the (US) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the program is centered around training courses that bring together practitioners from around the world in an interactive learning environment. The focus is on building effectively managed MPAs and MPA networks through regional training and strategic support for individual sites.

The program has two regional projects underway, in the South China Sea and in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. (A third project, still in the planning stage, will be sited in the Pacific Islands region.) These regions were selected based on a number of criteria:

  • Regional practitioners had expressed a need for capacity building;
  • A legal and management framework was in place;
  • Basic infrastructure needs were already met; and
  • Regional MPA authorities were willing to support knowledge- and skill-based development for the purpose of moving toward an effectively managed MPA network.

Once the criteria were met for the South China Sea and Eastern Tropical Pacific, NOAA identified local, regional, and national NGOs and agencies to partner on capacity building for the respective regions. These partners became the advisory body to each project, acting as host and providing logistical and professional support. Following an assessment, NOAA tailored a curriculum to the needs of the regional MPAs. Generally each project was built around training needs (skill and knowledge development), with a complement of site-specific programs such as management planning support, study exchanges, and advanced technical training. NOAA has made a commitment to each region of 18 months to 2 years, minimum, to follow through on the capacity building.

For the South China Sea Project, 35 MPA practitioners from China, Vietnam, and Cambodia gathered for two weeks in 2005 with an international team of trainers from Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the US. The curriculum addressed eight topical areas, covering such varied subjects as enforcement, sustainable tourism, communicating with the media, community-based management, and fisheries issues. Each practitioner was required to build an "implementation contract" - a commitment to implement one strategy from each of the eight topical areas over the next one to two years. In June 2006, a mid-term workshop was held to evaluate progress made on the implementation contracts and share lessons learned. In December 2006, participants gathered again for a workshop, focusing this time on sustainable tourism. The outcome of this third meeting was the design of eight demonstration projects on sustainable tourism in MPAs to be implemented in Cambodia, China, and Vietnam over the next year. More training events are scheduled in each of the three countries in coming months.

The Eastern Tropical Pacific project convened 39 MPA practitioners from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama in November 2006 to focus on sustainable tourism at their MPAs. The curriculum addressed such issues as visitor impacts, zoning, marketing, visitor education, and stakeholder participation. Each participant was required to build a demonstration project to implement at least one management strategy over the ensuing 12 months. Two more workshops are scheduled for the coming year: one on sustainable fisheries, and one on monitoring, research, education, and outreach.

For more information on the program, including a downloadable curriculum from each of the training projects (in English and other languages), reports and evaluations, and stories of lessons learned by participants, go to http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/international/mpa.html.

For more information:
Anne Walton, NOAA/NMSP, 4370 Kukui Grove St., Suite 206, Lihue, HI 96766, USA. Tel: +1 808 246 2177; E-mail: Anne.Walton [at] noaa.gov

Box: Lessons learned about training

By Anne Walton

Although participants in each of the two pilot projects (South China Sea and Eastern Tropical Pacific) represent very different cultural, political, and natural settings, they are all MPA practitioners struggling with similar challenges. In sponsoring both pilot projects, NOAA itself learned lessons from each:

  • A residential program in an isolated setting (dining, recreating, and relaxing together) creates continual opportunities for sharing information, discussing issues, and building social networks that last beyond the training.
  • Pick a setting that serves as a laboratory for the training: real-life experiences are valuable training tools.
  • Interactive, participatory learning where everyone is both teacher and student is an effective learning method as long as the course structure is maintained.
  • Case studies and references should, to the extent possible, be drawn from local and regional examples; very few MPAs can relate to the scope and scale of very large MPAs, as are found in some developed nations.
  • The most effective facilitators are those who come from the field and have struggled with the same issues and learned lessons from their own MPAs.
  • Training alone does not build capacity. Capacity building is multi-faceted and requires a range of approaches, such as study exchanges between sites or working with small teams at the site level.

Three new publications offer expertise on the subjects of protected area management and/or coastal management:

Managing Protected Areas: A Global Guide

Edited by Michael Lockwood, Graeme L. Worboys, and Ashish Kothari. Published by IUCN, 2006.

This 802-page book from IUCN spans the full terrain of protected area management and is very likely the most comprehensive guide on the subject ever published. With dozens of detailed international case studies, maps, tables, evaluation tools, and checklists, this book provides a one-stop shop for IUCN expertise on the principles and best practices of managing protected areas. One chapter - authored by Jon Day, director of conservation for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - is dedicated specifically to the management of MPAs. Other chapters provide information and guidance on topics applicable to any kind of protected area, marine or terrestrial: e.g., governance, developing capacity, management planning, finance, sustainable use, cultural heritage management, tourism, community-based management, evaluating management effectiveness, and more.

Price: US $99.50 from Amazon.com

The Dynamics of Integrated Coastal Management: Practical Applications in the Sustainable Coastal Development in East Asia

By Chua Thia-Eng. Published by Global Environment Facility, UN Development Programme, and International Maritime Organization Regional Programme on Building Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), 2006.

This 468-page report traces the advance of integrated coastal management (ICM) for sustainable development in East Asia over the past four decades, describing principles of ICM, tools for its application, and its future as a framework for sustainable coastal management in the region. Although the report spends only four pages specifically discussing the role of MPAs within an ICM context, it notes numerous benefits that can accrue to communities from linking these management tools. The report serves as a useful reminder that integrated management of coastlines can lay the groundwork for improved ecosystem health, both inside and outside MPAs.

Price: US $48.00 from PEMSEA (http://www.pemsea.org/ecomm/onlinestore_new.htm)

Coastal Resource Management in the Wider Caribbean: Resilience, Adaptation, and Community Diversity

Edited by Yvan Breton, David Brown, Brian Davy, Milton Haughton, and Luis Ovares. Published by the International Development Research Centre, 2006.

This 300-page report, available in English and Spanish, analyzes the social science aspects of community-based coastal resource management in the Caribbean region, with lessons learned and recommendations for researchers and decision-makers. One chapter examines communities and stakeholder groups with regard to MPAs in Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, and stresses the importance of understanding community characteristics and needs during MPA planning. The publisher, Canada's International Development Research Centre, assists developing countries in using science and technology to build sustainable policies and societies.

Free: Downloadable at http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-97371-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Canada designates Musquash Estuary as MPA

Canada has designated an 11.5-km2 area of estuarine habitat as its sixth Marine Protected Area under the terms of the nation's Oceans Act. The Musquash Estuary in the province of New Brunswick provides habitat for a variety of commercial and non-commercial fisheries and wildlife. First proposed as an MPA in 1998 by groups that included fishing interests, the site is one of the last ecologically intact estuaries in a region where most salt marshes have been modified by human activities. The designation is intended to protect the ecosystem's integrity and biodiversity while ensuring long-term sustainable use of its resources. It is unique among Canadian MPAs in that the province of New Brunswick transferred provincial crown lands to the government of Canada to streamline the regulatory process for management of the MPA. Musquash Estuary is located along the coast of the Bay of Fundy, known for having the greatest difference in water level between its high and low tides in the world. More information is available at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/newsrel/2007/mar04_e.htm.

The current issue of Coastal Management journal (Vol. 35, Issue 1, January 2007) provides several articles on the implementation of Canada's Oceans Act, including one on lessons from MPAs ("Lessons from Marine Protected Areas and Integrated Ocean Management Initiatives", by Sylvie Guenette and Jackie Alder).

Brazil publishes second edition of MPA atlas

The Marine and Coastal Division of Brazil's Ministry of the Environment has released a revised and extended edition of its large-format atlas of the nation's coral reef MPAs. This second edition provides more maps and also analyzes the representativeness of Brazil's coral reef MPA system, including how much of the country's mapped shallow reefs are within protected areas (more than 80%). It was published in conjunction with Brazil's hosting of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2006. The first edition, released in 2004, provided the first published maps of Brazilian reef environments ("Atlas available on Brazilian coral reef MPAs", MPA News 5:8). Brazil's nine coral reef MPAs are distributed along 3000 km on its northeastern coast. To order a free copy of the printed Atlas of Coral Reef Protected Areas in Brazil, 2nd Edition, of which a limited number of copies are available, e-mail Ana Paula Leite Prates (coordinator of the Marine and Coastal Division) at nzcm [at] mma.gov.br. The text of the atlas is in both Portuguese and English.

Report available on status of US coral reef MPAs

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released the first inventory and assessment of coral reef MPAs managed by state and territorial governments in the US. The report analyzes the management status of 207 MPAs located across seven jurisdictions: American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Florida, Guam, Hawai'i, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. It also identifies major challenges to effective MPA management (e.g., enforcement, funding, management capacity) and recommends steps to improving MPA success in general, although it does not evaluate management effectiveness site-by-site. The large majority (76%) of the MPAs in the report are multiple-use areas that allow some level of extractive activity throughout the entire site; the rest are partially or completely no-take. The 129-page Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States Volume 1 is available in PDF format at http://www.coralreef.noaa.gov. A limited number of hard copies will be available for free, later this year; to order one, e-mail Dana Wusinich-Mendez at Dana.Wusinich-Mendez [at] noaa.gov.

Less than 0.1% of marine managed areas on US West Coast are no-take

Less than 0.1% of marine managed areas on the West Coast of the US are no-take, according to a new assessment by the US National Marine Protected Areas Center. The remaining 99.9% of managed areas in the region (spanning the states of California, Oregon, and Washington) allow at least some fishing activity. The brief report "The State of the Nation's Marine Managed Areas: Place-Based Conservation in West Coast Waters" highlights trends in location, size, purpose, and management of existing marine managed areas in the region, and is available in PDF format at http://www.mpa.gov/pdf/national-system/stateofnation_west_final.pdf.

New Zealand marine reserves featured in National Geographic magazine

The April 2007 edition of National Geographic magazine features an article on New Zealand's marine reserves. It traces the path of the nation's underwater protection efforts, dating from early efforts - led by biologist Bill Ballantine - to designate a reserve at Goat Island in the 1960s. The article, "Blue Haven: New Zealand Coastal Reserves", accompanies a longer article on the current state of world fisheries ("Still Waters: The Global Fish Crisis"). The New Zealand article is available at http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0704/feature2/index.html.

Reinsurance company offers award for watershed management projects

The world's largest reinsurance company, Swiss Re, is seeking submissions for its 2008 ReSource Award, intended to recognize leadership in implementing sustainable watershed management in developing nations. The annual contest provides a total of US $150,000 to one or more projects each year, and is open to NGOs, public agencies, and scientific institutions. (Reinsurance companies provide risk management services to insurance companies.) More information, including application guidelines, is available at http://www.swissre.com/resource.

A new Canadian project - the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) - will use a sea-bottom network of acoustic receivers to track fish movement and the ocean's physical changes. Project leader Ron O'Dor says the project could transform conservation and fisheries management, particularly for highly mobile species. "OTN will provide a thousand times more information on where marine animals go and where they die," he says.

This is not the first project to monitor fish movement through the use of transmitter tags in animals ("Acoustic Tracking of Fish: How Continuous Data on Fish Movement Could Change the Planning of MPAs", MPA News 5:9). But it is the most ambitious in scale. OTN aims to deploy 5000 receivers throughout the Earth's oceans, eventually tracking up to one million individual animals at a time. Transmitter tags ranging in size from an almond to an AA battery will be inserted in animals, and will collect a variety of data on the fish's environment (e.g., depth, temperature, water salinity). Each time the animal passes a line of seafloor receivers, the tag will transmit its collected data to the receivers and indicate the fish's presence. The plan is for receivers to be deployed in every ocean region within five years, with the North Pacific and North Atlantic completed first.

OTN personnel suggest the project will provide the "missing link" between marine science and marine resource management, including MPAs. "It is relatively easy to choose a location for an MPA that protects species during a particular life stage, but ensuring the future of a species can require that all life history stages be protected," says O'Dor. "An example is grouper and related species that spend greater than 95% of their lives defending small territories, but migrate to spawning aggregation sites to reproduce. These concentrations in breeding grounds are prime fishing sites. To manage such stocks, we must know where they go and protect them wherever they are."

David VanderZwaag is leading the legal and social science component of OTN. "OTN has the potential to substantially influence national, bilateral, regional, and global ocean governance processes," he says. "Greater knowledge of migratory paths of marine species and their critical habitats may assist with MPA designation at multiple levels. New international agreements may be necessary - for example under the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species - to conserve marine species of special transboundary concern." The project website is http://www.oceantrackingnetwork.org.

For more information:
Ron O'Dor, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford St., Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada. Tel: +1 902 494 2357; E-mail: rodor [at] coreocean.org