November - December 2012 (14:3)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA129.pdf

MPA News asked two people with an interest in global MPA statistics for their thoughts on what counts as an MPA. Specifically, we gave a short list of what might be considered borderline MPAs to:

  • Chris Yesson of the Institute of Zoology in the UK, who helped develop the global MPA coverage calculation for the Marine Reserves Coalition, and
  • Lance Morgan of the Marine Conservation Institute, who has led development of

…and asked them which ones they would consider to be actual MPAs. Because both of their projects rely on the World Database on Protected Areas as their primary source of global MPA data, they agreed on nearly all of the sites. Still, their answers shed some light on how global MPA statistics are compiled:

Mediterranean/Black seas bottom trawl closure (designated 2005; 1.63 million km2)

Morgan: This is unlikely to be considered an MPA. It should be considered a fishery restriction instead.

International Whaling Commission Indian Ocean Sanctuary (designated 1979; 70 million km2)

Yesson: The Marine Reserves Coalition did not include this in our calculation. We felt its inclusion would result in a massive and artificial inflation of the protected area calculation.

Morgan: This site needs to be more comprehensive in its ecosystem protection to be considered an MPA.

Any MPA that has little to no effective management or enforcement in place (a paper park)

Morgan: Many sites in most likely fall into this category. We have not attempted yet to exclude areas on the basis of effective management.

Any MPA that allows commercial fishing

Morgan: Most MPAs allow some form of commercial fishing. In, we are planning to display no-take reserves differently and are looking to refine this information as our project continues.

Yesson: It would be useful to conduct a spatially explicit analysis of areas that are completely no-take. At present it is difficult to do because the data required have not been gathered into usable form. We feel this is the next logical step for MPA coverage analysis.

When calculating global MPA coverage, what sites to include is a central question

In the 13 years since we started publication, the MPA News team has generally taken an inclusive view of what counts as a marine protected area. Gear closures, temporary closures, underwater cultural sites, closed areas around military bases - we have drawn lessons from all of these at one time or another.

Our reasoning is two-fold. First, when useful knowledge and experience can be transferred from such sites to the managers of more strictly defined MPAs, we should seize such opportunities. We would rather err on the side of casting our information net widely rather than excluding sites whose managers could conceivably share, or receive, valuable insights. Second, efforts to use closed areas for habitat or single-species protection, or for limited temporal measures, should not be discouraged because they do not meet some stricter definition of an MPA.

But when it comes to measuring global progress toward MPA geographic coverage goals - like the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's "Aichi target" of 10% global MPA coverage by 2020 (see box "The Aichi target and other targets" at the end of this article) - is it still appropriate to take such an inclusive approach? Although an inclusive approach means more sites qualify to be counted (and goals may therefore be reached more readily), it also means including some sites like ones listed above that may not represent many people's concept of a conservation ideal.

The central question is, What qualifies as an MPA? This question - a source of disagreement in the MPA community from the beginning of the field - has been reignited as a result of two recent developments:

  • The emergence of new global tabulations of MPAs - the database and a global coverage calculation by the Marine Reserves Coalition (MPA News 14:1) - each of which relies on a version of the same original database but with some sub-selection or modification; and

  • New guidelines from the World Commission on Protected Areas for applying the IUCN protected area management categories to MPAs. The guidelines clearly specify what should not be considered as marine protected areas - notably, any areas that allow extractive use with no long-term goal of conservation (

Together these developments present a choice for the field on how global MPA coverage should be measured: with a relatively inclusive view that incorporates a wide range of sites, or with a more exclusive view that focuses more on a stricter definition of MPAs. MPA News explores this issue.

Different MPAs, different calculations

In September 2012 at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea, new statistics were presented from a forthcoming publication (Spalding et al. in press, Ocean Yearbook, Vol. 27) by The Nature Conservancy and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). Analyzing current progress toward reaching global protected area coverage targets, they concluded that MPAs now cover 2.3% of the world ocean. The good news, according to the report, is that this represents a five-fold increase in MPA coverage in just under a decade. (Summary statistics are at

The WCMC manages the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), and that database serves as the central repository for global coverage data. State representatives typically provide the input data, guided by expert reviewers from the WCMC. The abovementioned Marine Reserves Coalition calculation of global MPA coverage and the new website rely on the WDPA as their foundation. "Each group is using the same database," says Mark Spalding of The Nature Conservancy, who has led three global MPA reviews (see, for example, MPA News 12:3). "They are not independent approaches."

Still, because the decision on what counts as an MPA can vary from organization to organization, and from person to person, there are some differences among the three projects. The Marine Reserves Coalition concluded, for example, that global MPA coverage was actually 3.2% - nearly a percentage point higher than the UNEP calculation. How? In part, it supplemented the WDPA with additional sites, including large MPAs in Australia that had been proposed but not yet officially designated at that time, and vast no-trawl zones off the coast of Portugal and North Africa that have not been submitted to the WDPA. For its part, has also supplemented the WDPA by including the full US National MPA System in its tabulation. Significant tracts of the US system may not meet the IUCN definition of MPA and thus may not be included in the WDPA.

"Of course users of the WDPA are welcome to make their own selections, but site-by-site alterations should come with a caution," says Spalding. "In past studies we've added sites, but only in the knowledge that they were in the process of being added into the WDPA. If you add sites that have been deliberately excluded from the WDPA, or take others out that have been deliberately included, you are opening a can of worms. If you decide to add in a large site - and remember that a state may have chosen not to include it, and in many cases may know the legal and management status better than you - you will not only change the statistics. You will also have an automatically incomplete dataset: clearly, you won't have time to check all 8000 or so other sites, or to scour the world for other sites equivalent to the ones you added." He says the virtue of the WDPA is that it has been populated by a detailed process with significant expert input from hundreds of global, national, and local experts. "It may be clunky and not fully up-to-date everywhere but it follows a consistent and increasingly robust process," he says.

Recategorizing MPAs

In preparing this article, MPA News invited the Marine Reserves Coalition and to comment on what they would count as MPAs, based on a list of sites provided by MPA News. A selection of their answers is here. One interesting answer pertained to an enormous network of gear closures to protect seafloor habitat in the North Pacific - the Aleutian Islands Habitat Conservation Area, covering 957,000 km2. This site is in the US National MPA System and thus also in the MPAtlas as a marine protected area. But MPAtlas plans to recategorize it as a fisheries regulatory area, not an MPA.

Lance Morgan, president of the Marine Conservation Institute, which developed, says the goal of recategorizing is to help provide some differentiation within what otherwise is a catchall term of "MPA". "I know there are a lot of people who don't think different areas meet 'MPA' standards, and we are trying to set a standard for what we mean by 'MPA' in the MPAtlas," he says. "Then we can display these areas differently from other areas that don't meet that standard. We have been researching areas and trying to determine if the areas restrict all, some, or no fishing, and whether it was done as a fishery regulation or as a managed area. We recognize that there is a relatively large gray zone here."

Dan Laffoley led the five-year development of the new guidelines for applying IUCN protected area management categories to MPAs. He says it is time that the term marine protected area is applied more carefully. "We need to ensure that what we refer to as MPAs are sites that really do meet the grade," he says. "The supplementary guidelines are specifically aimed at helping better inform everyone's understanding of what is - and is not - an MPA."

He says the advice is badly needed. "In recent years I have seen examples both from inside our practitioner community and among policymakers and the public that have demonstrated a lack of understanding of core MPA principles, leading to an erosion of the value of the MPA concept," he says. "In the guidance, we have therefore given more detail about the IUCN 'protected area' definition as applied to the ocean, about spatial measures that are therefore probably not MPAs (it's always difficult to create clean rules at a global scale), and much more detail on how to assign an MPA to one of the management categories."

Impact of more restrictive definition on global coverage targets

Assuming the new IUCN guidance is gradually applied, and the greater clarity around the MPA definition causes some current "MPAs" to become "non-MPAs", Laffoley admits there could be a change in total MPA area coverage calculations. "I hope, however, that we will gain confidence in the associated processes to count MPAs, to recognize and track progress, and to allocate MPAs to categories," he says. "I also hope it will signal the end to the notions that 'MPA' only means no-take or marine reserves: remember, for example, that 65% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is not no-take but makes an essential contribution to the MPA. In addition, I hope the clearer definition signals that fisheries management areas are not automatically de facto MPAs, that pipeline and windfarm exclusion areas are not MPAs, and that wider spatial measures do not also qualify. In most cases they won't and they don't unless they clearly meet the definition. I think it is critically important to realize that there is a 'reasonableness of application' argument that must be employed for areas that 'sort of seem to fit the definition'."

Laffoley says the reasonableness of application can be used to dispel some un-truths about particular sites. "If you have a spatial action put in place to reduce conflict on impacts between an activity - say, fishing - and a marine species or group of species, then this is an area-based species measure. It is not an area-based conservation measure aimed principally at conserving the area, and so is not an MPA. This does not mean that such measures are not important - far from it. But they are not MPAs and should not be counted as such."

For more information:

Mark Spalding, The Nature Conservancy, Cambridge, UK. Email: mspalding [at]

Lance Morgan, Marine Conservation Institute, Sonoma, California, US. Email: Lance.Morgan [at]

Dan Laffoley, World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN, UK. Email: danlaffoley [at]

BOX: The Aichi target and other targets

In the MPA community, Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 under the Convention on Biological Diversity is often called, simply, "the Aichi target". It says:

"By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape."

Notably, the phrase "other effective area-based conservation measures" opens the door for non-MPA sites to be included in measures of progress - not necessarily as a way to avoid having to designate MPAs but, ideally, to acknowledge other efforts at integrated sustainable management.

Still, the Aichi target is not the only international target for MPAs. Delegates to the marine-theme workshops at the 2003 World Parks Congress, for example, called for MPA networks globally to include at least 20-30% of each marine and coastal habitat in "strictly protected areas" - a substantially more ambitious goal than Aichi.

(Please scroll down to see the poll)

Editor's note: Anton Wijonarno is Marine Biodiversity and Programme Monitoring Manager for WWF-Indonesia.

By Anton Wijonarno

Indonesia has a system of marine protected areas that was designed in 1984, and mandated to be managed by the Ministry of Forestry and Nature Conservation. Challenged with limited resources to implement marine conservation, this ministry collaborates closely with several national and international conservation NGOs to build the capacity of its park staff and operations.

WWF and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) support the management of Indonesian national parks and other forms of MPAs. The support is provided in partnership with local governments and communities as an approach to share responsibilities and enable more effective management. One of the MPAs where these organizations have focused their efforts has been Wakatobi National Park (WNP).

Wakatobi National Park

WNP was designated as a national park in 1997 with the goal of habitat conservation. Located south of the island of Sulawasi and covering roughly 14000 km2, the park includes coral reefs, mangroves, islands, and deeper waters. Upon designation, the main threats to the park were overfishing and destructive fishing practices, like fish bombing.

In 2002, the national park authority and local authorities decided that outside scientific and logistical support would be necessary to ensure WNP's conservation goals were achieved. This was a time of change for national parks throughout the country. A new national policy of governmental decentralization led to creation of new governance districts and new local management authorities for parks in general, including WNP. The move from top-down governance to greater reliance on bottom-up processes was a driver to review the management plans of the country's protected areas. In the case of WNP, the establishment of a collaborative management system, including local community forums, required involvement of various stakeholder groups not previously involved in the park's management, including fishers.

NGO support takes several forms

It was in this context that WWF and TNC began their support of Wakatobi National Park. The support came in several forms:

  • Funding biological assessments and monitoring to underpin the design of management and zonation plans for WNP;

  • Providing vessels, training and financing to support evaluation of management impacts; and

  • Supporting outreach to and environmental education of the local community to help build a constituency of stakeholders. These stakeholders would assist with certain management responsibilities, including monitoring, and comply with the WNP management and zonation plans.

Substantial progress was made in the first three years of partnering. The sources of pressure and threats to the biodiversity and marine and coastal resources were identified, and management challenges and enabling conditions were discussed with the park authorities. The occurrence of destructive fishing practices, despite existing laws against such practices, was linked to low active presence of park managers in the field. Based on these findings, WWF and TNC provided financial support in years two and three for floating ranger stations and fast speed boats.

In year four, using the full range of collected monitoring data, authorities and their partners conducted a large workshop to kick off a stakeholder-informed process to redesign the park's management, including a revised zoning scheme. In addition, community and other stakeholder perceptions about the management of the park were assessed.

In 2007 the zoning revision process was completed, followed by the management plan in 2008. Funding support continued for monitoring of impacts of management, and outreach and engagement for compliance with villages. (In 2010 one local community forum of Wakatobi fishermen, Komunto, won the United Nations Development Program's Equator Prize for its work. Formerly fish bombers, the group now receives more attention and appreciation for its involvement in Wakatobi collaborative management.)


From 2002-2012, WWF and TNC have spent roughly US $4 million in support of WNP. Over the same span, the park's annual operating budget has increased from $300,000 in 2002 to $1 million in 2012.

To achieve effective management of the park, WWF and TNC have needed to be flexible in their support. The period of decentralization - with new administrative authorities, collaborative frameworks, and a greater say for local communities in the use of resources - has required a broad array of services, from science to public education.

There is substantial work still to do. Implementation of the park's fisheries management component is still not complete. In 2009, WWF's fisheries transformation team developed a program in the park to respond to anxious fishers worried about the short-term loss of catches due to expanded no-take zones. Improving the quality of the catch and the way of fishing could be an answer to some of the coastal fishers' concerns. Ideally, WNP could serve as a prototype for integrating no-take zones with territorial use rights for catch and effort limitations.

The investment by WWF and TNC in Wakatobi National Park has been money well-spent. Illegal fishing practices in WNP have declined. The funding has also helped leverage additional direct funding for the park from the Indonesian government. In addition, the NGOs have helped promote and market WNP as a marine tourism destination and "brand", fostering a sense of ownership among Wakatobi residents and the Indonesian diving community, and serving to attract tourism investment.

Perhaps most importantly, during this period of somewhat ill-defined and contested national policy on collaborative management in Indonesian protected areas, the involvement of WWF and TNC has been a stabilizing influence. The investment in Wakatobi has helped support and facilitate discussions among various key sectors and stakeholder groups about power and revenue-sharing. This has proven to be a lengthy process, but one that is critical to the long-term success of the park.

For more information:

Anton Wijonarno, WWF-Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia. Email: AWijonarno [at]

Editor's note: Alice Cornthwaite is Marine Support Officer for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee of the UK. The JNCC is the statutory adviser to the UK Government on national and international nature conservation.

By Alice Cornthwaite, UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee

The UK has had a busy 2012 in terms of progressing marine protected areas and working towards the aim of establishing a well-managed network of MPAs by 2016. MPAs will protect UK marine life while allowing sustainable and legitimate use of our seas to continue. The network of MPAs will also ensure we meet our commitments under international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the OSPAR Convention, as well as national legislation such as the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. MPAs established under international, European and national legislation will all contribute to this network.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is responsible for the identification of MPAs in the UK offshore marine area. It has been working closely with the other UK conservation agencies on providing advice to Government on Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Marine Conservation Zones, and Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas.

European marine sites

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) - UK

The UK now has 107 SACs with marine components, covering 7.6% of the UK sea area.

During 2012 JNCC has worked on the remaining SACs required to fulfill our obligations for habitat SACs under the EU Habitats Directive. This work included submitting two new sites in the Irish Sea and one in the English Channel to the European Commission in July 2012. In October 2012, JNCC submitted five SACs in the Scottish offshore region, which had undergone a public consultation in Spring 2012. All five Scottish sites have been identified for reef features ranging from bedrock to cold water coral reef. One of these sites, Hatton Bank, is the largest MPA ever proposed within Europe (16,594 km2). The UK SAC network includes a wide range of exciting habitats and species, including unique environments such as coral reefs growing on sand mounds on the Darwin Mounds; Anton Dohrn seamount, an extinct volcano; and Dogger Bank, which is Europe's largest sandbank. There are also submarine structures that support unique communities of chemosynthetic organisms and have revealed species new to science, such as a nematode at Scanner Pockmark.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) - UK

While the UK SPA network is well-established on land, SPA provision for birds in the marine environment is less developed. To address this, the UK aims to identify all SPAs within its waters and, where possible, have them classified by the end of 2015. The UK currently has 107 SPAs with marine components but only three of these are entirely marine. Work is underway by JNCC and the other UK conservation agencies to identify additional entirely marine SPAs, including inshore sites for waterbirds such as divers, grebes and seaducks outside of the breeding season; marine extensions to existing terrestrial SPAs; and offshore areas used for feeding by seabirds such as puffins, gannets and shearwaters.

National MPAs

Recent national legislation enables the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to designate MPAs in their waters. All administrations are taking forward their MPA work, with projects in each country at different stages. JNCC has been working on the offshore part of two projects described below, whilst providing advice to the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations on their inshore projects.

Marine Conservation Zones - England

In a unique approach, potential areas for the Government to consider as national MPAs - known as Marine Conservation Zones, or MCZs - were identified and recommended by four regional groups of sea users. Fishermen sat down with conservationists, scuba divers with windfarm developers. By the end of the project, more than 6000 sea users had been involved through a series of discussions and negotiations to come up with a recommended network of sites in September 2011. MCZs will protect a vibrant range of habitats: seagrasses, maerl (a hard seaweed), sponge gardens, muddy areas, and more. There are a number of weird and wonderful species that can also be protected within these sites, including the kaleidoscope jellyfish that "cartwheels" to move, and sea-fan anemones that reproduce by leaving behind a train of fragments from the base of their bodies - these fragments then grow into new anemones!

In July 2012 as advisers on the natural environment, JNCC and Natural England provided the UK Government with formal advice on the science behind these recommendations and the quality of the ecological data (available at and A public consultation is due to start on the sites in December 2012; if supported, the first sites are expected to be designated in late 2013.

Nature Conservation MPAs - Scotland

JNCC and Scottish Natural Heritage will submit scientific advice to Scottish Government identifying proposals for Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in November 2012. These proposals complement the existing network of MPAs with the aim of furthering the protection of Scotland's marine biodiversity and geodiversity. The marine habitats and species represented in the proposals reflects the great range and diversity of Scotland's marine environment including flame shell beds, burrowed mud habitats and deep sea sponge aggregations. The proposals also encompass large-scale features - e.g., seamounts and shelf banks and mounds - to help build ecosystem function into the network of MPAs ( Scottish Government has led stakeholder involvement in development of the proposals via a series of five national workshops.

Scottish Ministers will report to Parliament on progress in developing the MPA network by the end of 2012, and will decide which of the Nature Conservation MPA proposals will go forward to a public consultation in 2013.

Note: UK MPAs can be viewed on the JNCC MPA interactive map:

For more information:

Alice Cornthwaite, JNCC, Peterborough, UK. Email: Alice.Cornthwaite [at]

BOX: Planning offshore MPAs in the UK: A few of the challenges

By Alice Cornthwaite

  1. Data availability in the offshore region has historically been low compared to the inshore region, with modeled data often used as a proxy for field records. The JNCC has pushed hard to promote further data collection and has itself undertaken offshore survey campaigns to gather more information to underpin designations. Check out our offshore survey blog ( during November 2012 when we are surveying Wyville Thomson Ridge, Braemar Pockmarks and Scanner Pockmark in Scottish offshore waters.

  2. Generating enthusiasm for the protection of common representative features such as mud habitats and sandbanks is not as easy as it is for iconic and rare species. Producing guides ( to demonstrate the value of these habitats has enabled stakeholders to understand the need to designate MPAs for representative broad-scale habitats that will also include rare and iconic species.

  3. There is a range of national and international commitments, so it can be a challenge to deal with their different legislative regimes. National MPAs, for example, can take account of socio-economic information from stakeholders, but SACs under the EU Habitats Directive can only be proposed using scientific information. Clear communications are required to help stakeholders avoid any confusion and maintain their support for the MPA work.

Australian Government officially designates final network of Commonwealth MPAs

It is now official. On 16 November as MPA News went to press, the Australian Government formally approved what it proposed last June - a national representative system of MPAs that increases the nation's MPA system from 27 sites to 60, and now covers 3 million km2 in total (MPA News 14:1). Described by the Government as the most comprehensive marine park network worldwide, the system includes the new Coral Sea Marine Reserve, a nearly 1 million-km2 area of which half will be no-take.

The process of developing management plans for the new reserves has begun, including what gear types and activities will be allowed in the MPAs. No new "on the water" changes for users in the MPAs will take effect until July 2014. In recognition of the expected impact of the new restrictions on fishing, the Government announced a plan to allocate around AU $100 million (US $104 million) in fisheries adjustment assistance. "The assistance package recognizes that while the marine reserves are estimated to only have around 1 per cent impact on the commercial fishing industry nationally, some fishers and fishing businesses will be affected," said Environment Minister Tony Burke. Government announcements and fact sheets on the MPAs and the assistance package are at

CCAMLR fails to reach consensus on Antarctic MPA proposals

At their annual meeting in October 2012, member states to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to reach unanimous agreement on three separate proposals for marine reserves in Antarctic waters. The proposals covered the Ross Sea, Eastern Antarctica, and areas exposed by collapsed ice sheets near the Antarctic Peninsula. Each proposal would have closed areas to fishing and used the closures as study sites on impacts of climate change on polar ecosystems. CCAMLR operates by consensus; since there was no full agreement on the reserves at the October meeting, the proposals have been tabled until a special meeting of CCAMLR to be held in Germany in July 2013.

CCAMLR member states include the EU and 24 nations. Prior to the October meeting, member states New Zealand and the US had rival plans for a Ross Sea reserve, as described in the September-October 2012 issue of MPA News by Evan Bloom of the US Department of State (MPA News 14:2). They managed to bridge their differences, presenting a joint proposal to CCAMLR for a 2.27 million-km2 MPA. The CCAMLR website is The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a coalition of conservation groups, is at

US expands tiny MPA to more than 50,000 times original size

It is not unusual for the boundaries of an MPA to change over time to some extent, reflecting socioeconomic considerations or improved understanding of an area's ecology. But can you imagine an MPA expanding by more than 50,000 times its original size? It just happened. What was formerly the 0.8-km2 Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa is now the 46,000-km2 National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The South Pacific site, previously notable for containing the only true tropical coral reef in the US National Marine Sanctuary System, now also contains much more extensive reef habitats (including in deep water), hydrothermal vent communities, rare marine archaeological resources, and important fishing grounds.

The expansion and renaming, as well as a whole new set of regulations, followed a management plan review process for the site. Accounting for the expansion are five areas that have been incorporated in the MPA, including the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. The Fagatele Bay site was previously the smallest national marine sanctuary in the US; now it is the largest. For more information on the management plan review and the changes, go to

Mozambique announces coastal protected area

The East African nation of Mozambique has designated a 10,411-km2 protected area in its coastal waters. Described by supporters as the largest MPA in Africa, the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago protected area includes an array of habitats, including islands, mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass ecosystems. It also provides important breeding grounds for dugongs, seabirds, and turtles.

The development of a management plan for the site is underway. The archipelago's waters, fed by cold, nutrient-rich upwellings, are fished heavily by commercial and artisanal fishers. A press release by WWF Mozambique, which supported the planning of the protected area for several years, is at

New atlas available on important seabird areas

BirdLife International has launched a new online atlas that identifies 3000 important bird areas (IBAs) for marine species worldwide, including breeding grounds and migration routes. Consisting of confirmed, proposed, and candidate IBAs, the sites account together for 6% of the world's oceans. The atlas is intended to help governments plan protected areas for seabirds, including on the high seas, as well as guide the siting of incompatible uses (such as offshore windfarms) away from important habitats. Available for free, the atlas pertains to species from albatrosses to penguins, and draws on the collected expertise of more than 1000 experts. It is available at

Strategy to build MPA management capacity in Mediterranean

A new report presents a strategy for improving MPA management in the Mediterranean region through building managers' capacity. Based on an assessment of current capacity-building needs and priorities at the national and MPA levels, the report recommends delivery mechanisms with the collaboration of regional and national actors. Developed by WWF, MedPAN (the Mediterranean Protected Area Managers Network), and RAC/SPA (the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas), the report is available at

Guidance on designing MPA networks that are resilient to climate change

A new report provides a set of four general guidelines for designing MPA networks that are resilient to climate change:

  • Protect species and habitats with crucial ecosystem roles, or those of special conservation concern;
  • Protect potential carbon sinks;
  • Protect ecological linkages and connectivity pathways for a wide range of species; and
  • Protect the full range of biodiversity present in the target biogeographic area.

The 82-page report Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate is published by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an intergovernmental institution to support environmental cooperation among Canada, Mexico, and the US. It is available at

UNEP releases latest report on global protected area coverage

In September 2012, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre released the Protected Planet Report 2012, its latest official review of progress toward achieving the protected area targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It provides statistics on protected area coverage of countries and ecoregions, current to the year 2010. It is available at

Editor's note: The LMMA Network supports learning, advocacy, partnership, and institutional development for community-driven marine resource management and conservation, including through the use of locally-managed marine areas or LMMAs ( In this recurring feature "LMMA Lessons", the network offers insights that its practitioners have gathered over the past decade.

The Locally-Managed Marine Area Network held a tok story side event at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, held in Cairns, Australia, in July 2012. Tok story is a Pacific expression meaning to share experiences informally. Similar to other LMMA Network sharing events, the evening began with acknowledgment of local traditional resource owners and a customary Fijian kava ceremony to welcome those present and establish a setting for exchanging ideas.

Over 130 conferees from countries spanning the globe gathered at the event, seated on traditional straw mats and passing kava. They shared examples and advice on community-based management, research, livelihoods, and more. Below is a small sampling of some of the spoken lessons:

  • "Practitioners from outside the community - scientists, facilitators, or advisers - should always try to speak the local dialect and demonstrate a willingness to learn the culture to understand the issues and needs of the community."

  • "As a scientist, I make sure that the local communities receive the results of the work I did as a guest in their communities, and I do this before reporting the results to others."

  • "Within our indigenous communities, we are more receptive to individuals in management positions who share our background and cultural knowledge. Thus, to get such individuals into high management positions, it is critically important to have good training programs at local and regional universities and at the career-development level."

  • "As an outsider working in and with a local community, I initially thought that fishermen there were interested in getting wealthier. But this was not their objective. They were more interested in being recognized and knowing their work was valuable."

  • "Meeting fishers as a friend - rather than as a biologist, social scientist, or conservationist - is more likely to bring collaboration and co-operation in return, and allows for more efficient progress."