July - August 2012 (14:1)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA127.pdf

For Pacific Islander populations, music plays a central role in society and culture. Through song and chant, the music provides a means of recording and communicating history, and of celebrating the natural world.

In light of the connection that Pacific Islanders hold to their marine environment, songs have even been composed for some MPAs in the region. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands of the US, is one MPA with its own official chant. Keoni Kuoha, Native Hawaiian Program Coordinator for the Monument, explains the basis for this:

"An important ingredient in our Monument's ability to build relationships with the Hawaiian community - and, thus, the reason we have a chant composed for the Monument - is that our leadership and staff are able to connect with this community. Several of us are Native Hawaiian, and communication with the public is often enhanced when folks have a common experience to pull from.

The relationship between the Monument - both the place and the people who help to care for it - and Hawaiians engenders connection, emotion, and genuine aloha [affection, compassion]. In turn, people are inspired to express their feelings about this relationship, and for some Hawaiians, song composition is a natural means of expression."

Two recordings of the chant No Papahānaumokuākea ("For Papahānaumokuākea "), composed by Kainani Kahaunaele and Halealoha Ayau, are available at www.mpanews.org/song.htm .

OSPAR designates large MPA on high seas

In June the OSPAR Commission - the intergovernmental body responsible for protecting and conserving the Northeast Atlantic and its resources - designated an MPA encompassing the water column of an area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Charlie-Gibbs North High Seas MPA covers an area of nearly 180,000 km2.

It is the seventh MPA that OSPAR has designated on the high seas, beyond any nation's jurisdiction. The prior six were designated in 2010 ("Large New MPAs Designated in North Atlantic", MPA News 12:3)

The Charlie-Gibbs North High Seas MPA contains a meandering sub-polar front that separates warm waters to the south from cold waters of the north. It is a highly productive zone and includes several species that OSPAR considers to be threatened or declining, including deep water sharks, blue whales, leatherback turtles, and orange roughy. A brief OSPAR press release on the new MPA is at www.ospar.org/html_documents/ospar/news/ospar_pr_12_ospar12_en.pdf .

National governments make MPA commitments at Rio+20 meeting

At the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (the "Rio+20 Summit"), several national governments made commitments with regard to their MPA systems, including:

  • Antigua and Barbuda committed to protecting 20% of its nearshore marine area in MPAs by 2020 as part of the country's joining the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. The country also committed to protect 15% of its terrestrial area. More information on the Caribbean Challenge is at http://campam.gcfi.org/campam.php .
  • Grenada announced it will co-host a Caribbean Political and Business Leaders Summit in 2013 with the British Virgin Islands to discuss expansion of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative and to develop sustainable financing programs for protected areas.
  • The Seychelles announced its willingness to designate 30% of its nearshore waters as protected areas in return for forgiveness of national debt. The swap - proposed as debt for adaptation to climate change - could create a funding stream for the Seychelles of US $2.5 million per year.

Maldives intends for entire EEZ to be MPA within five years

Also at the Rio+20 Summit in June, President Mohamed Waheed of the Maldives announced his intent to designate a marine protected area over the entirety of his country's waters within five years. Although sustainable forms of fishing will be allowed to continue in the MPA, he said, the MPA will likely ban fishing with certain gears, including purse seining and bottom trawling. The size of the Maldives' Exclusive Economic Zone is 923,000 km2.

California approves final open-coast segment of state MPA network

In June, the California Fish and Game Commission approved a plan for a systematic network of MPAs along the north coast of the US state of California. The approved system includes 19 MPAs as well as additional management areas; all together, 13% of the state's north coast marine region is now under protection. The new sites are expected to go into effect by early 2013.

The approval marked the completion of the open-coast portion of the state's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) initiative - a multi-year, region-by-region process to re-examine and redesign California's MPA system. The north coast is one of four open-coast study regions in the MLPA planning process, along with the north central coast, central coast, and south coast. The study region of San Francisco Bay, not considered part of the open coast, remains in planning.

The California MPA network is the first in the US to be designed from the start as a science-based network, rather than a patchwork of independent protected areas. Stretching northward from the Mexico border to the state line of Oregon, the network now includes 119 MPAs, 5 recreational management areas and 15 special closures covering approximately 16% of all state marine waters. Roughly half of California's new or modified MPAs are multiple-use areas; the rest are no-take. For more information on the MLPA process in general or the north coast MPAs in particular, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa .

Antarctic coalition calls for MPAs across 40% of Southern Ocean

In May 2012, an alliance of global conservation groups proposed the designation of a network of 19 MPAs covering more than 40% of the Southern Ocean. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) identified the areas based on previous conservation planning analyses in the region and new research. The network would be designed to protect critical large-scale Southern Ocean ecosystem processes, as well as a wide and representative range of habitats. The report Antarctic Ocean Legacy: A Vision for Circumpolar Protection is at www.antarcticocean.org/pdf/circum/11241-AOA-Circumpolar-Report-FINAL.pdf .

The AOA proposal aims to influence CCAMLR, the intergovernmental body responsible for managing Antarctica's marine living resources, which is engaged in a year-long process to plan a network of MPAs in the region. CCAMLR (www.ccamlr.org ) has called on its member states to submit detailed proposals. AOA includes Greenpeace, WWF, and other groups, and receives support from Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson as well as other funders (www.antarcticocean.org ).

France releases strategy to guide overseas MPA network

France's Council of Ministers has released a national strategy for the planning and management of MPAs in the country's overseas territories. It follows France's first national MPA strategy, released in 2007, which focused on MPAs in home waters.

The result of two years of consultation, the new strategy aims to help France reach its national objective of covering 20% of its waters in MPAs by 2020. Currently 11% of French waters are in MPAs. Owing in part to its overseas island territories, France has the second-largest EEZ in the world: 11 million km2.

The strategy document is in French and is at www.aires-marines.fr/Documentation/Strategie-nationale-pour-la-creation-et-la-gestion-des-aires-marines-protegees

8% of US waters in MPAs; most sites allow fishing

An analysis of US marine protected areas by the National MPA Center indicates that 8% of the country's waters are in MPAs focused on conserving natural or cultural resources. In most MPAs in the US, fishing is allowed: nearly nine out of every ten US MPAs are multiple-use. The analysis, based on data from the national MPA Inventory, is at www.mpa.gov/pdf/helpful-resources/mpa_analysis_2012_0320.pdf .

As an indication of the multiple-use nature of many US marine protected areas, the National Marine Sanctuary Program is hosting a recreational fishing contest this year - the Sanctuary Classic - at four national marine sanctuaries: Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gray's Reef, and the Florida Keys. Most (98%) of US national marine sanctuary waters are open to recreational fishing. More information on the fishing contest is at http://sanctuaryclassic.org .

NGO lodges complaint regarding government's slow progress on MPA management plan

WWF-Canada has lodged a formal complaint with the Canadian government, citing the government's lack of progress on developing a management plan for an MPA designated four years ago. The site in question is the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area, a 6131-km2 MPA located near the western edge of Canada's Pacific EEZ. The NGO's petition also asked the government to examine whether it is honoring its commitment to developing a national system of MPAs under the country's Oceans Act.

Under Canadian law, the government has roughly four months from receipt of the petition to respond. This is believed to be the first time the government has been petitioned with regard to developing a management plan for a particular MPA. A copy of the petition is at http://awsassets.wwf.ca/downloads/cesdbowieseamountpetition_final.pdf . For information on the Marine Protected Areas program of Oceans Canada, go to www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/marineareas-zonesmarines/mpa-zpm/index-eng.htm .

Another NGO, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), released a report in May 2012 assessing the federal government's progress in designating new MPAs. The report Is Canada on track to create 12 new marine protected areas by December 2012? is at www.cpaws.org/uploads/pubs/oceans/OceanProgressReport_May142012_Final.pdf .

Reports: FAO case studies on MPAs in developing nations

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released two reports with case studies from developing nations on the use of marine protected areas:

  • Marine protected areas: country case studies on policy, governance and institutional issues
    Examining opportunities and challenges for MPAs in Brazil, India, Palau and Senegal.

  • Governance of marine protected areas in the least-developed countries: Case studies from West Africa
    Illustrating the challenges of MPA governance in Mauritania, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau.

iPhone app educates public on marine World Heritage sites

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has released a free iPhone app to educate the public on marine World Heritage sites worldwide. The Marine World Heritage app provides information on each of 45 sites, as well as links to related videos, websites, and the Facebook page of the Marine World Heritage Programme. To download, go to http://mpapps.net/MarineWH .

The LMMA Network is a group of practitioners working to improve locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) in the Indo-Pacific by sharing knowledge and resources. Active for more than a decade, the network now involves hundreds of LMMA sites across seven countries: Fiji, Indonesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pohnpei, and Solomon Islands.

Practitioners in other world regions are starting to look to the LMMA Network for lessons and inspiration ("Creation of a Network of Locally Managed Marine Areas in the Western Indian Ocean", MPA News 13:3). In this light, MPA News presents this new feature "LMMA Lessons", drawing on the accumulated knowledge of LMMA practitioners.

Below is an excerpt from the 2009 report Coming Together: Sharing Lessons from the 2008 LMMA Network-wide Meeting Community Exchange, available at www.lmmanetwork.org :

Keys to successful resource management planning:

  • Recognize "management planning" is not just for conservation goals. Communities have various issues outside of dwindling marine resources, such as health, sanitation, livelihoods, poverty, etc. Communities should discuss and incorporate these into their management plan.
  • Encourage community-wide participation in management planning - otherwise you risk having limited views in developing goals and objectives, and only a few individuals active in the implementation of the plan.
  • Recognize the different roles played in communities by different stakeholder groups - for example, elders, women, youth, teachers, etc. Planning should address each group's concerns and activities within the marine areas.
  • Resource rules should be stated simply in a way that is understandable to everyone in the community.
  • Choose a location for the protected area where coral health is already good and where there are a lot of fishes. It is difficult to achieve timely and persuasive results with an area that is heavily damaged.
  • Ultimately, aim to have more than one protected area in each community. For example, having two protected areas - one temporary and one permanent - allows for one to be opened for food consumption on very special occasions, such as a death or traditional function in the village, while the permanent one stays closed.

Editor's note: Douglas Fenner is a coral reef monitoring ecologist with the Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, American Samoa. His essay here is adapted from an article he published this year in Diversity journal, "Challenges for Managing Fisheries on Diverse Coral Reefs" (www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/4/1/105/pdf ).

By Douglas Fenner

Coral reef fisheries are among the most diverse fisheries in the world. In the Indo-Pacific region alone, as many as 300 species are taken.

These fisheries are also among the most difficult of all fisheries to manage, and most are undermanaged or not managed at all. Most coral reefs are located in poor countries (where many millions of people depend on reef fish to feed their families), and there is little to no money available to manage the large number of species. Conventional fisheries stock assessment is far too expensive in these cases and requires too much expertise. Most conventional fisheries management approaches are not feasible.

It is said that no-take MPAs are promoted in the tropics as fisheries management tools not because they are such great fisheries tools but because there are few if any viable alternatives for managing coral reef fisheries. There has been a great rush to implement no-take areas, even though the scientific evidence that they provide significant net benefits to fishers remains thin. The primary purpose of these no-take areas is, rather, conservation. And for that they are probably the best available tool for protecting coral reef ecosystems from fishing.

The catch is that in order to implement no-take MPAs effectively, the sites require stakeholder support - to ensure community compliance with site regulations. For that support to exist, there must be some benefits from the MPAs for local populations, and not just in terms of conservation.

For fishermen in poor countries like Indonesia and the Philippines (which have the second- and third-largest coral reef areas), anything that increases their fish catch will win their strong support. So even modest increases in fish catch from waters surrounding the no-take area can be sufficient to garner strong support, compliance, and enforcement of the MPA from villagers - at least in the short term. Bear in mind, however, that these same countries have high population growth rates, particularly among poor rural villages. The increasing populations, and resulting increases in food demand, may offset over time any short-term growth in fish catches from MPAs.

Dive tourism holds the potential to produce much greater total economic benefits for villagers. And, in its own way, dive tourism is a renewable resource. No-take MPAs can increase the abundance of large fish, which are just the fish that divers most like to see. Systems need to be devised so that benefits from the dive industry flow not only to the local villages in general but also to fishermen, who can be employed in the dive industry. Again this helps to ensure community support for the no-take MPAs.

To sum up: in poor nations with high population growth, MPAs are good conservation tools, modest fisheries management tools, and probably only temporary aids for increasing food supply. The best bet for ensuring long-term community support for no-take MPAs is to manage them as a tourism development tool.

For more information:

Douglas Fenner, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, American Samoa. E-mail: douglasfennertassi [at] gmail.com

On 14 June, the Australian Government announced its proposal for a national representative system of MPAs - a plan that, if implemented, will increase the nation's MPA system from 27 sites to 60 and cover more than 3 million km2 in total.

The proposed sites have each been the focus of regional planning processes for months or years, stretching from the South-west Marine Region ("Australia Announces Plan For Large Network of MPAs off SW Coast", MPA News 12:6) to the Coral Sea in the northeast ("Australian Government Releases Proposal for Large Coral Sea MPA", MPA News 13:4), and regions in-between.

The proposal is now undergoing a final public consultation period, lasting until 10 September 2012. Although legally the maps could still change before the new MPAs are designated, Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke has indicated his intent to stick with the sites as proposed. "It's too late for people to say I want this line shifted or I want this zone painted a different color," he said in a press release. "The question now is very straightforward. Do we go ahead with the most comprehensive marine park network in the world or do we not?" He noted that in developing the final proposed network, the government has already consulted with thousands of people at more than 250 meetings.

The final MPAs are expected to be designated by the end of this year. The proposed plan, which includes new MPAs in all mainland-adjacent marine regions of the Commonwealth except the South-east, is at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/reserves/index.html . (The South-east marine region designated a network of MPAs in 2007.)

Coral Sea MPA; assistance for fishers

The "jewel in the crown" of the national MPA system, in the words of the environment ministry, will be the Coral Sea Marine Reserve, a nearly 1 million-km2 area of which roughly half will be no-take. Upon designation, it will be one of the largest individual MPAs in the world. The reserve will adjoin the seaward edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. A coalition of 15 conservation groups led by the Pew Environment Group campaigned for years for Australia's Coral Sea to be completely off-limits to fishing.

Anticipating impacts of the proposed national MPA system on fishermen, the Australian Government is instituting a financial assistance package of roughly AU $100 million (US $104 million). The package, to be developed in partnership with industry, is intended to meet case-by-case needs of fishermen and businesses, including through:

  • Transitional business assistance to support changes to fishing business operations;
  • Assistance for employees including payments;
  • Investment in research and monitoring;
  • Removal of commercial fishing effort from impacted fisheries through possible purchase of entitlements; and
  • Targeted assistance to vertically integrated fishing businesses.

Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig said, "Those who can change their business model, or who opt to leave the industry, will get the assistance they require."

The Australian Marine Alliance, which represents commercial and recreational fishing sectors, has calculated that the adverse impact of the new MPAs on business could be massive, including 36,000 jobs lost and a decline in fishing-related revenue of AU $4 billion. The official government estimates of MPA impacts, however, are much lower: a potential loss of up to 125 jobs and $23.2 million in decreased revenue across fishing-dependent communities. In the latter case, such losses would be readily covered by the $100-million assistance package. The government estimates the new MPAs will displace 1-2% of the total annual value of wild catch fisheries production in Australia.

BOX: Australian Government press releases

A coalition of six UK-based NGOs has concluded that global MPA coverage amounts to 3.2% of the world ocean. That figure is well below the 10% global MPA coverage target set by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity for 2020. On the bright side, the 3.2% figure is at least double what other experts have estimated for current coverage, as recently as early 2012 (MPA News 13:5).

The Marine Reserves Coalition, which calculated the global MPA coverage figure, also assessed MPA coverage by country. The latter calculations resulted in a Top 5 of:

  1. Monaco (100% MPA coverage of country's total sea area)
  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina (97.1%)
  3. Portugal (51.6%)
  4. Kazakhstan (47.3%)
  5. Estonia (45.7%)

The coalition consists of the Blue Marine Foundation, ClientEarth, Greenpeace UK, Marine Conservation Society, Pew Environment Group, and the Zoological Society of London (www.marinereservescoalition.org ). Below, MPA News speaks with coalition coordinator Fiona Llewellyn and analyst Chris Yesson about their calculations of MPA coverage and the implications for global MPA progress:

MPA News: Your 3.2% figure for global MPA coverage is twice as high as some other estimates. How do you explain this difference, considering your data came from the same source that other calculations have used - the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA)?

Fiona Llewellyn: There are a number of large protected areas that are missing from the WDPA. So although our analysis was based primarily on the WDPA, we did have to manually add our own data as well, where we were aware of missing areas.

Chris Yesson: The WDPA is continually updated, so there are more MPAs in it now than, say, six months ago. For example, the 1 million-km2 South Georgia MPA, designated by the UK, only appeared in the WDPA in June 2012, and several relatively large MPAs (tens of thousands of square kilometers in size) were not yet in the WDPA when I did our analysis. Also, I do not know what definition of "marine protected area" other analyses have used in their coverage calculations. This might have led them to exclude some areas that are effectively fisheries management zones (i.e., with very limited protection) that we included in our calculations.

MPA News: The top five countries for MPA coverage include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, and Estonia - each not often recognized for its MPA work. Based on their rankings in your table, would you consider these countries to be leaders in marine conservation?

Llewellyn: No. In fact this was something we discussed on a number of occasions: that is, given the hugely different EEZ sizes of nations, is analyzing progress by gross proportion of EEZ the best approach?

Yesson: The countries at the top of the ranking typically have very small coastlines and hence small EEZs. The total sea area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, is 21 km2. This makes it relatively easy to get to high area protection, and does not necessarily make a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina a world leader in MPAs. That being said, Portugal - which is #3 in our ranking - does have a large, globally significant EEZ (1.7 million km2). Its position in the ranking is thanks to two very large no-trawl zones in the Azores and Madeira.

Llewellyn: Going forward we hope to build upon our analysis. We may look at more complex ways of ranking countries that take total size of EEZ into account. We believe that countries with larger EEZs have a greater responsibility (and opportunity) for conservation, and therefore should be leading the way in marine stewardship.

MPA News: Do you plan to do a similar table to document no-take area coverage for each nation?

Llewellyn: When we undertook this work, it was our primary intention to analyze global no-take coverage alongside global MPA coverage to illustrate how much global MPA area is fully protected [against all extraction]. A key message of the Marine Reserves Coalition is that our 3.2% coverage figure does not mean that 3.2% of the ocean is fully protected. Protection levels within these areas vary greatly.

Unfortunately, the no-take (and management) data within the WDPA are not comprehensive enough for analysis - there are simply too many missing entries in the no-take data field. So instead we looked at the 20 largest MPAs and investigated ourselves how much of the total area is actually no-take. This was surprisingly a very long process, due to lack of readily available information. It is an area of work we intend to pursue further.

MPA News: Some practitioners have suggested there should be greater attention paid to managing existing MPAs effectively, as opposed to designating new MPAs in a effort simply to achieve coverage targets. Are you concerned about a flurry of paper parks being designated by governments to achieve the 10% target by 2020?

Llewellyn: We want to see governments actively working toward achieving - as an absolute minimum first step - the 10% target from the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, we stress that effective management must accompany designation. Otherwise biodiversity protection and restoration cannot be achieved.

[Editor's note: The Marine Protected Areas League Table of Nations is available at www.marinereservescoalition.org/files/2012/07/Marine_Reserves_Coalition_MPA_League_Table_June2012.pdf .]

For more information:

Fiona Llewellyn, Zoological Society of London, UK. E-mail: Fiona.Llewellyn [at] zsl.org

The Great Barrier Reef may be listed as a World Heritage site "in danger" unless several proposed plans for new ports and other coastal development in the Australian state of Queensland are shelved.

At its annual meeting in June 2012, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee gave the Australian and Queensland governments less than a year (until February 2013) to develop and apply a highly precautionary process to consideration of coastal development proposals. That process will be expected to forbid any proposal - inside or adjacent to the site - that would significantly impact the "outstanding universal value" of the World Heritage area.

There are currently 35 applications for new coastal development in the region, including for large ports and liquefied natural gas facilities.

If the Australian and Queensland governments cannot show "substantial progress" in addressing the concerns raised, the World Heritage Committee has indicated it will consider inscribing the Great Barrier Reef to its List of World Heritage in Danger. The committee uses such inscriptions to attract international attention to threats and move governments to take action. Both governments are now undertaking a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef to address each of the key issues confronting the ecosystem.

There is nearly complete overlap between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: 99% of the World Heritage Area is covered by the federally managed Marine Park. The remaining 1% of the World Heritage Area is state-managed and comprises ports and most of the islands.

Sophisticated management, yet still under threat

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is generally recognized in the global MPA community for its sophisticated management, including a zoning framework based on 70 bioregions and a comprehensive water quality protection program that is co-managed by the Australian and Queensland governments. The possibility that the site could be added to the World Heritage in Danger list is a reminder that even well-managed MPAs face threats and the potential for decline.

In March 2012, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre conducted a joint mission to the Great Barrier Reef to examine the development situation. The resulting report expressed concerns regarding the lack of a sufficiently precautionary approach to decision-making on new coastal development applications. As evidence, the report stated that since 1999, Queensland government has approved 70% of all coastal development proposals that had the potential to impact the reef's outstanding universal value. The mission report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/document/117104 .

"I think it is fair to expect more of the [decision-making] process than was in place when the World Heritage delegation visited earlier this year," says Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell. Powell is a member of the Liberal National Party, which took power in Queensland in March. He says the state government is moving quickly to ensure high environmental standards are met. "We are pursuing a strategic ports plan to make sure development occurs in a measured and responsible manner in the future. Where projects are not environmentally or economically sound, I am confident the government will take action."

UNESCO is concerned that the potential coastal development projects will cause the loss of critical habitat, including for dugongs and other threatened species. The development could also reduce overall ecosystem resilience to climate change - which, through coral bleaching and acidification, is considered the main threat facing the Great Barrier Reef.

Jon Day, director of planning, heritage, and sustainable funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, shares these concerns. "Expanding coastal development and the associated pressures undoubtedly poses a risk to the health of the Great Barrier Reef," he says. "One of the best ways to build resilience to cope with climate change is to reduce these other pressures."

For more information:

Alexandria Bernard (senior media advisor), Ministry for Environment and Heritage Protection, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. E-mail: alex.bernard [at] ministerial.qld.gov.au

Jon Day, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. E-mail: jon.day [at] gbrmpa.gov.au

BOX: Background on the Great Barrier Reef and marine World Heritage

  • The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1981.
  • The peer-reviewed Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 (www.gbrmpa.gov.au/outlook-for-the-reef/great-barrier-reef-outlook-report ) highlighted threats to the Great Barrier Reef and identified the following issues in priority order as those reducing its resilience:
    1. Climate change;
    2. Continued declining water quality from catchment runoff;
    3. Loss of coastal habitats from coastal development; and
    4. Remaining impacts from fishing and illegal fishing/poaching.
  • Climate change is a global issue facing all natural World Heritage properties - particularly marine sites, for which ocean acidification is a significant threat.
  • There are currently 46 marine sites inscribed on the World Heritage list within 35 countries. The newest-listed marine site is the Rock Islands in Palau, inscribed in 2012.
  • Two marine World Heritage sites are currently inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

    Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize)
    Inscribed on World Heritage List in 1996.
    Inscribed on Danger List from 2009-present.
    Threats to site value: sale and lease of public lands for development within the site, leading to destruction of mangrove and marine ecosystems.

    Everglades National Park (United States)
    Inscribed on World Heritage List in 1979.
    Inscribed on Danger List from 1993-2007 and again 2010-present.
    Threats to site value: alterations in hydrological regime, increased nutrient pollution, and adjacent urban and agricultural growth.

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) seeks comments on proposed regulations required by the Shark Conservation Act to address shark conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. EDT on August 9, 2012. The entire notice may be viewed in the OpenChannels Literature Library.

You may submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

By John B. Davis

There has been some confusion in the international media today regarding the Australian Government’s announcement of its plan for a national MPA network, covering a total of 3.1 million km2 of ocean.  Around the world, media have suggested the plan is effectively a done deal and the network has been created.  Granted, the Government’s own press release may have fostered that impression.  One must read 20 paragraphs into the release to learn that the plan is still subject to a 60-day public comment period before it can become law.

The question at this point is, how likely is it that any changes will be made to the plan following this final public comment period?  Environment Minister Tony Burke has made it clear he does not want to hear about changing boundaries at this point.  The press release quoted him as saying:

“We now go through one final 60 day consultation period.  It’s too late for people to say I want this line shifted or I want this zone painted a different color.  The question now is very straightforward.  Do we go ahead with the most comprehensive marine park network in the world or do we not?”

My sources suggest there is no legal basis for Minister Burke’s restriction on boundary changes at this point.  Legally, the maps could still change.  Politically, however, the Minister wants to move ahead with the maps he now has. 

It is safe to say that the Government wants this new comment period to be a formality.  That likely won’t stop opponents of the plan, including some in the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, from voicing their displeasure and working to make changes to the plan before it is actually put in place.  Stay tuned.

To submit your own comments on the plan: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/reserves/comments.html

For maps and fact sheets on the proposed network: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/reserves/index.html

By MPA News staff

WWF-Canada has lodged a formal complaint with the Canadian government, citing the government’s lack of progress on developing a management plan for an MPA designated four years ago. The site in question is the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area, a 6131-km2 MPA located near the western edge of Canada’s Pacific EEZ. The NGO’s petition also asked the government to examine whether it is honoring its commitment to developing a national system of MPAs under the country’s Oceans Act.

Under Canadian law, the government has roughly four months from receipt of the petition to respond. This is believed to be the first time the government has been petitioned with regard to developing a management plan for a particular MPA. A copy of the petition is at http://awsassets.wwf.ca/downloads/cesdbowieseamountpetition_final.pdf.

For information on the Marine Protected Areas program of Oceans Canada, go to www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/marineareas-zonesmarines/mpa-zpm/index-eng.htm.