November - December 2013 (15:3)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA135.pdf

In separate decision, Government approves major coal terminal along Great Barrier Reef

The new Coalition Government in Australia, elected by national vote in September, has scrapped management plans developed by the prior Labor Government for most of the nation's representative system of MPAs. The impacted MPAs are the 33 sites that were designated in 2012 by the Labor Government. The dropped management plans would have taken effect in July 2014.

The impacted sites increased the national MPA system last year from 27 sites to 60, expanding the system to a total of 3 million km2 (MPA News 14:3 and 14:1). The sites include the 1-million km2 Coral Sea Marine Reserve, of which roughly half would have been no-take under its now-dropped management plan.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told MPA News in October that the new reserves were "imposed without fair or adequate consultation" of industry, and would unfairly lock out recreational fishermen from large areas of the ocean (MPA News 15:2). He said the sites' management must be reviewed and redeveloped before final management plans are adopted by Parliament.

The management plans for the 33 sites were passed by the Australian House of Representatives - one half of Parliament - earlier this year. Some conservationists anticipated the Senate - the other half of Parliament - would pass the plans, too, in coming months, thus making the plans law. But the Coalition Government scrapped the plans on 16 December by having the nation's Governor-General re-proclaim the reserves, effectively restarting the management plan development process.

However, the Coalition Government stopped short of calling for a review of the sites' boundaries. The boundaries will remain as designated under the Labor Government, although for the time being they are simply lines on a map. Their designation one year ago followed a series of six phases of public consultation conducted by the Labor Government, with strong support from conservation organizations and opposition from several fishing industry groups, including commercial and recreational ones.

A review of the management plans, expected to last about six months, will now begin. The Government will appoint a scientific panel and several Bioregional Advisory Panels to facilitate and improve consultation with stakeholders. The make-up of the panels will be announced in early 2014.

Coal terminal expansion; will GBRMPA permit it?

On 10 December, the nation's Coalition Government approved the plan for a significant expansion of a coal export terminal at Abbot Point, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The plan will involve dredging three million cubic meters of seabed and disposing of the spoils inside the park boundaries. The project will create one of the world's largest coal terminals.

The expansion plan has drawn concern from conservationists and from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which lists the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage site. The Centre has said that any expansion of ports near the reef - particularly outside of existing port areas - would negatively impact the "outstanding universal value" of the site and could result in the park being added to the World Heritage in Danger list (MPA News 14:1 and 15:1). The World Heritage Centre and IUCN will issue a report on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef prior to the next World Heritage Committee meeting in June 2014.

Because the dredging could impact the natural and cultural values of the marine park, it is now up to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to decide whether to permit the dredging to take place as planned or not. The Authority, whose decision is expected by 31 January 2014, is under heavy pressure from conservationists against the expansion and coal industry interests for it.

For more information:

Environment Minister Greg Hunt's statement on the MPA management plans:

Statement by Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation on scrapping of MPA management plans:

Statement by Australian Marine Conservation Society on scrapping of MPA management plans:

Environment Minister Greg Hunt's statement on the Abbot Point terminal expansion:

GBRMPA webpage on Abbot Point terminal expansion

To certify something means to confirm that it meets a particular set of criteria. In the field of marine conservation, the existing certification programs tend to focus on sustainability. The Marine Stewardship Council, for example, certifies that particular fisheries meet the council's criteria for sustainable harvests. The Blue Flag program (, another example, certifies that beaches and marinas meet the program's strict criteria for water quality, environmental education, and other services.

In the MPA field to this point, certification programs have been very limited, both in number and focus. The UNESCO World Heritage Programme effectively certifies whether certain sites meet its criteria for outstanding universal value. It is a very exclusive program, intended to represent only the most exemplary sites: the vast majority of MPAs will never meet the program's criteria, and that is partly the point.

But two new programs promise to open the door to what could be a new age of wide-scale certification in the MPA world. Designed to provide an incentive for stronger MPA management worldwide, the programs are taking two distinct approaches:

  • The Green List, developed by IUCN and partners, will assess whether an MPA's management is effectively meeting its conservation goals. In short, the program is assessing management effectiveness. Sites that meet the criteria will be added to a list of approved MPAs - the Green List.

  • The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), developed by the Marine Conservation Institute (a US-based NGO), will convene a coalition of partners to build scientific criteria for "strongly protected marine areas", then assess whether an MPA meets those criteria. In essence, GLORES is assessing conservation rigor. Sites that meet the criteria, judged on a sliding scale, will earn a ranking depending on their rigor.

At IMPAC3, where both programs were described and discussed, several questions arose. What will these programs entail work-wise for site-level managers? What are the benefits to being listed? What are the costs of not being listed? MPA News discusses these programs with their lead developers below.

Green List: certifying management effectiveness

The idea for the IUCN Green List of Well-Managed Protected Areas (its full name) has been around for a while, says James Hardcastle of IUCN. "Back in 1982, Sir Peter Scott, one of the original founders of IUCN, wrote about the possibility of matching IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species with a Green List that could reward conservation endeavors," says Hardcastle. "Today there is a growing realization that to encourage success we need to recognize and promote achievement. We need to highlight the positive results of conservation efforts. And we need to provide encouragement even as we face the threat, exploitation and loss inherent in the biodiversity crisis and our rapidly changing world."

IUCN began surveying the potential demand for such a certification program back in 2010, and announced its intent to create the Green List at the 2012 World Conservation Congress ( Over the past 12 months it has begun a pilot phase involving several partner countries (Kenya, Colombia, South Korea, France, and Italy, among others), with each country exploring the idea in the context of its own protected area system. The French experience, for example, has focused on using the Green List to standardize management effectiveness evaluation across the nation's multiple protected area systems (see the box below, "Using the Green List to standardize management evaluations...."). IUCN intends to launch the Green List and its criteria formally at the IUCN World Parks Congress in November 2014.

Feedback from the pilots has already been invaluable, says Hardcastle. "We have been firmly reminded that the Green List will only be successful in so far as it is credible, independently verified, and internationally recognized," he says. "It should be linked to a clear mandate, which we have effectively addressed through links to the CBD Strategic Plan and Aichi Target 11 and through an IUCN Resolution from our World Conservation Congress in 2012. However, it must also be simple in design, cost-effective in application, and voluntary and motivational in its implementation." He notes that more than 500 individuals worldwide from across conservation, development, government, and business sectors have provided input so far on the Green List's development.

One question that has arisen in the pilots is whether listed sites could be de-listed if their management weakens for some reason. This would be similar to the system the World Heritage Programme has, which allows for de-listing of persistently troubled sites. "To maintain credibility, we need triggers in place to review listing status," says Hardcastle. "However, we do not want to demotivate protected areas, or to require a costly and time-consuming review process. At present we are considering two such triggers. First there would be a time-bound, 5-year review of the status of the protected area. Second, using a specific public comment portal or social media platform, we would allow issues to be raised by stakeholders, which, if deemed serious, could trigger a review process by IUCN."

Any system involving MPA management effectiveness evaluation can place a burden on the site manager, who must gather data and answer a sometimes-lengthy series of assessment questions. Hardcastle is wary of creating a system that will further stress managers already maxed out by their normal daily responsibilities. "No one is forced to apply - the Green List is a voluntary process," he says. "For a protected area manager, the process will be light, and a 'pre-selection' phase will limit nominations to those with the evidence and qualities to be successfully put forward for potential listing. That being said, one of the Green List values is equity, so we are studying an option for a fund to help protected areas and agencies with fewer resources and time to be able still to participate."

Ultimately, he says, the Green List is the "tip of an iceberg" of investment, support, and capacity development for protected areas. "On its own, without those things, the Green List would be meaningless as a label," he says. "The aim is to help countries and protected area managers demonstrate success and quality."

GLORES: certifying conservation rigor

The idea behind the Global Ocean Refuge System is to develop a science-based, strategic way to safeguard marine ecosystems on a global scale. GLORES - pronounced "glories" - will help clarify two aspects of MPAs: what levels of protection are needed to meet global marine conservation needs, and how well existing sites are protected ( The program will develop and manage objective criteria that incentivize and accelerate the creation of strongly protected marine areas. The program was announced at IMPAC3.

The GLORES criteria are still in development. Lance Morgan, president of the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI), says his organization is gathering leading natural scientists, social scientists, MPA managers, conservationists and other experts to establish scientifically rigorous criteria. That will happen in 2014. Then existing and proposed MPAs will receive one of three different grades: gold, silver, or bronze - or no status if they do not meet a minimum standard. [Editor's note: Marine Conservation Institute was instrumental in the designation of multiple large MPAs in the Pacific, including what is now Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.]

Considering the program is aimed at encouraging conservation rigor, fully protected (no-take) sites might be expected to have a better chance at securing gold status than sites that allow some forms of fishing. But Morgan says it may not be as simple as that. "The type and degree of extractive activity will need to be a significant part of defining the status of a site within the GLORES scheme, and many scientific studies report that no-take marine reserves show the greatest benefit for recovering marine life," he says. "However, a site might not need to be 100% no-take to reach the highest level of GLORES status. Other criteria might be location, size, ecological connectivity, a management plan that addresses the key impacts to biodiversity and people, monitoring, surveillance and enforcement capacity, funding levels, and permanence of protection."

The possibility of de-listing, says Morgan, will be a likely component. "There will be a need for auditing GLORES sites as this program matures, and the ability to demonstrate management effectiveness should be a key criterion," he says. "Setting the bar high enough to promote lasting conservation is the first step, and demonstrating management effectiveness an important follow-on step. Sites that fail to show that they are meeting their conservation objectives will face the possibility of being de-listed."

Ultimately, the impact of GLORES will come down to the defined criteria. What does it mean for an MPA to be strongly protected? That is a central question for the entire MPA field, but one without a consensus answer - at least to this point. "The criteria are central to GLORES and deserve careful consideration," says Morgan. "They will be vetted and tested with selected MPAs before being rolled out. We are seeking funding to develop these criteria now."

For more information:

James Hardcastle, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Email: James.Hardcastle [at]

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

BOX: Using the Green List to standardize management evaluations across multiple protected area systems

France is one of the countries that has partnered with IUCN to test the Green List concept. The nation views the Green List as an efficiency tool for its array of protected area systems. France has more than 15 protection systems for biodiversity - from marine national parks to Natura 2000 sites to World Heritage sites and more. Many of these have their own unique effectiveness evaluation scheme, including criteria, objectives, review periods, etc.

If the Green List criteria are applicable and credible across the nation's array of protected area systems, they could vastly simplify and coordinate France's assessments, says Thierry Lefebvre of IUCN France. "Existing assessment systems developed by some protected area networks are adapted to their contexts, but they are very difficult to harmonize," he says. "The Green List is based on very detailed standards - more complete than any management effectiveness methodology we have in France. The Green List integrates the analysis of natural values, management, governance, and conservation results. Over the long term, we hope that it could help incentivize the development of a national doctrine and framework based on its standards of quality."

Some protected area systems in France may find it easier to meet the Green List standards initially, says Lefebvre. France's national and regional natural reserves, national parks, and biological reserves already have management plans, clear governance systems, and high natural values - making them relatively good candidates for listing. Care should be taken, he says, that the Green List doesn't become something that is achievable only by sites in the largest, best-organized, and best-funded public agencies. "Risks of devaluation have been stressed by members of our national reference group and also protected areas managers through a survey," he says. "They are worried about the consequences of not being listed, particularly on public reputation and related funding opportunities. These risks are being taken into account in our program of work as we aim to engage a diversity of networks into the initiative and suggest mechanisms for sharing experiences."

For more information:

Thierry Lefebvre, IUCN, Paris, France. Email: thierry.lefebvre [at]

It is not often that an MPA proposal receives unanimous support from the nearby community, particularly when the proposal is for a large no-take area. But the unique circumstances surrounding the Pitcairn Islands - a remote UK territory in the South Pacific, midway between New Zealand and Peru - have contributed to why this site may be the next very large MPA to be designated in the world.

Like most remote island territories, the Pitcairns have a sizable EEZ (836,000 km2) and a small human population (50 people). Most of the Pitcairns' inhabitants are descendants of the mutineers of the HMS Bounty, who settled the main island in 1790 with their Tahitian companions.

There is very little commercial fishing occurring inside the Pitcairns' EEZ. This is due in part to the remoteness of the archipelago and in part to the relatively low biodiversity in Pitcairn offshore areas, compared to other Pacific archipelagos. The waters are not a frequent habitat for migratory tuna, for example.

The lack of commercial fishing means two things: (1) the Pitcairn marine ecosystems are in relatively pristine condition, and (2) there has been little if any opposition so far to calls for the UK government to designate 99% of the Pitcairns' EEZ (834,334 km2) a no-take MPA.

Those calls are coming from a "Protect Pitcairn" coalition consisting of the local population, the Pew Charitable Trusts' Global Ocean Legacy program, and the National Geographic Society. Supporters of the campaign were out in force at the IMPAC3 meeting in Marseille, France in October. The entirety of the Pitcairn Islands' population supports the proposal - it is unanimous.

The Pitcairns' economy is limited in general. Annual total income for the territory is less than 100,000 UK pounds per year (US $164,000), accounting for about 3% of the territory's annual expenditure (the UK government contributes the rest). Supporters of the MPA proposal assert the new protected area would significantly boost tourism to the Pitcairn Islands - from sailing vessels and cruise ships interested in visiting such highly protected waters - and bolster the economy in the process.

Limited commercial fishing to be allowed in two places

Under the proposal championed by the Protect Pitcairn coalition, commercial fishing would continue to be allowed within 12 nm of the sole inhabited island (Pitcairn Island) and one nearby reef area. The fishing would primarily be done by Pitcairners for sale to visiting cruise ships. Deputy Mayor Simon Young of the Pitcairn Islands says there are "zero plans or any inclination" to allow fishing permits to other countries in the future.

Although the islands' coral reefs feature abundant sea life, the relatively non-biodiverse offshore areas would comprise most of the no-take MPA. Young says it still makes sense to protect both inshore and offshore areas, despite the lack of current pressure on the latter. "Even though there are less abundant fishing opportunities within our waters compared to many areas of ocean in the world, there would still be opportunities for rogue fishing vessels to exploit the waters for a profit," he says. And by drawing a no-take area around nearly all of the EEZ, he adds, it will be simpler to enforce a single, unified area as opposed to patches of ocean and boundaries with varying levels of protection.

For more information:

Simon Young, Pitcairn Islands. Email: deputymayor [at]

Protect Pitcairn campaign website:

Launch of Official MPA Map, a visual tally of global MPA coverage

A new map produced by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) illustrates global MPA coverage, now estimated to be at 2.8% of the world ocean. Taken together the coverage area is larger than continental Europe, but still falls far short of the World Convention on Biological Diversity target of 10% global coverage by 2020.

Launched at IMPAC3, the Official MPA Map can be viewed or downloaded at It is based on the World Database on Protected Areas, which is administered by the WCMC.

The developers of the map say it provides a new level of transparency for tracking progress toward the 10% target. "A key issue for me has been better explaining where the official percentage calculation comes from," says Dan Laffoley, Vice Chair - Marine for WCPA. "Practitioners can now check which MPAs have been included and give feedback on missing sites, as well as perhaps on areas that they think should not be there." Versions of the map and their associated statistics over time will be archived as a reference to see the progress in MPA coverage.

Brian MacSharry of WCMC says the map yields some surprising observations. "My first impression was, 'Wow! Look at where sites are and where sites are not,'" he says. "The map is dominated by a set of large MPAs, particularly those around Australia and New Zealand, as well as other sites in the southern hemisphere (Prince Edward Islands, Chagos, South Georgia). There are also a lot of small sites scattered along coasts, particularly in Europe and North America."

"The map brings into hard focus that many sites are very, very small," says Laffoley. "Just a glance at the map shows we still have a long way to go in terms of ensuring a fully representative approach to ocean protection and management."

For more information:

Dan Laffoley, WCPA - Marine, Email: danlaffoley [at]

Brian MacSharry, WCMC, Cambridge, UK. Email: Brian.MacSharry [at]

Ministerial conference reaffirms global MPA coverage target, need to protect high seas

A ministerial conference immediately followed IMPAC3 and involved 19 ministers of nations representing the world's oceans. Held on the French island of Corsica, the conference produced a consensus statement reaffirming a commitment to meeting the so-called Aichi Target 11 under the Convention on Biological Diversity - i.e., to establish by 2020 a network of comprehensive and coherent protected marine areas effectively managed and covering at least 10% of the oceans.

The statement also calls "as an emergency" for the protection of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Specifically it calls on the international community to adopt by the end of 2014 the decision of the UN General Assembly allowing for the launch of negotiations on a global agreement for the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity on the high seas.The conference statement ("The Ajaccio Message") is available at

France announces several new MPA commitments

At the ministerial conference that followed IMPAC3, host nation France announced several new MPA-related commitments:

  • Joint creation, with Monaco, of a trust fund to support the financing and effective management of Mediterranean MPAs;
  • France's donation over the next two years of more than 20 million Euros (US $27 million) to marine conservation projects worldwide, including in the Mediterranean, West Africa, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, and the Pacific;
  • The forthcoming designation of the Bay of Arcachon Marine Nature Park, located along the Atlantic coast of southwestern France;
  • The launch of a feasibility study on the creation of a marine park around Cape Corsica, on the island of Corsica; and
  • The submission to UNESCO of a joint application with Italy to inscribe both the Strait of Bonifacio International Marine Park and the Maddalena Archipelago National Park, in Sardinia, on the World Heritage List.

31 new "Hope Spots" announced

At IMPAC3, Sylvia Earle, her organization Mission Blue, and IUCN announced 31 new "Hope Spots" worldwide - particular marine sites that warrant special protection for their wildlife or significant underwater features. The sites add to the 19 Hope Spots that Earle proposed in 2009, and which Mission Blue has worked to protect since then. The new Hope Spots are distributed throughout the global ocean from the tropics to the poles. For a map:

Coming up in MPA News: biodiversity offsets, novel financing techniques, and more topics from IMPAC3

MPA News will continue reporting on IMPAC3 outcomes in upcoming issues. Our next issue will examine the topic of biodiversity offsets, as well as how some MPAs are using innovative techniques to generate revenue.

Jayson Horadam is the Senior Consultant at MPA Enforcement International, a firm that advises MPAs on enforcement programs, management, and leadership, particularly in the Caribbean region ( Horadam has a quarter-century of experience in marine law enforcement and natural resource protection. He began his career in 1989 as an enforcement officer in what later became the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, in the US. In 2002, Horadam was named the first captain of the sanctuary’s Enforcement Team, directing a 19-member squad in patrolling and protecting 9500 km2 of sea.

MPA News: Why did you start your company, MPA Enforcement International?

Jayson Horadam: When I was an MPA enforcement officer and interacted with the enforcement personnel from other sites in the Caribbean region, I found that MPAs’ enforcement plans often fell short of effectively protecting their marine and coastal resources. What MPA Enforcement International does is to deliver training and guidance to create effective and efficient enforcement programs.

MPA News: Can you describe examples of shortcomings you have seen in MPA enforcement?

Horadam: A few countries empower their police forces to protect MPAs but do not provide any specialized training or guidance for such services. In addition, police can be very busy with other duties they find more important, making MPA enforcement a secondary task. Other countries use enforcement rangers or wardens but fail to provide them with the necessary enforcement powers, training, or equipment.

Often the people in charge of enforcement programs have a limited background in enforcement or law and do not understand the elements of building a credible, effective enforcement program. There is an MPA in the Caribbean, for example, where the wardens have no powers of arrest but routinely take alleged violators to jail. In this case, the wardens could be charged with false imprisonment. In other MPAs, there are no guidelines for the collection and chain of custody for evidence. Without a proper chain of custody, there is no case to present in court.

MPA News: In your view, what are the most important skills necessary for MPA enforcement personnel to have?

Horadam: An enforcement program must have people trained in:

  • Identification of violations and the proper steps to be taken;
  • Writing a report of the violation incorporating all elements needed to meet court-required criteria;
  • Collecting and preserving evidence, rendering the evidence properly marked to a secure compound, completing an entire case package, and presenting that case to court; and
  • Keeping themselves safe, as well as the public and violators.

If all of the above is achieved, the enforcement program will be able to present a professional presence that is a deterrent to unwanted behavior and activity. It will also gain support and encouragement from user groups, communities, local and national police, and the judiciary system.

MPA News: As part of your consulting work, you design your trainings around the unique circumstances of each MPA enforcement program. What are some of the ways that MPA differ in their MPA enforcement conditions?

Horadam: Some MPAs deal with violations as civil procedures while others are criminal. (Civil generally involves monetary fines only, while criminal offences relate to jail time and the possibilities of monetary fines as well.) Some areas enjoy the support of local fisherfolk while others do not. Some have consistent government funding while others are dependent on alternative financing schemes. Some enforcement personnel spend their days collecting fees from “yachties” while the wardens in other MPAs in the region are dodging drug smugglers’ bullets.

So while the manual of Standard Operating Procedures that we provide to enforcement programs may share many points between sites, area-specific situations certainly apply.

MPA News: Can you provide an example of a specific training session you have provided?

Horadam: We were hired this year by Grenada’s Fisheries Division to help them develop an MPA enforcement program that more effectively protected their resources and personnel. We delivered a five-day workshop that stressed the importance of officer and public safety, as well as how to build a solid enforcement case. Participants were able to demonstrate what they learned in the classroom through field training and practical exercises with the instructors.

Through the week participants received additional instruction from partners such as the Royal Grenadian Police Force (RGPF) Prosecutor and other members of the RGPF and Coast Guard. The workshop facilitated the development of a partnership between Grenada’s MPA rangers and the RGPF. As an outcome, the MPAs are now collaborating with the RGPF to use the police evidence compound, a step that simplifies the entire chain of custody aspect of court proceedings.

In addition we emphasized to the rangers that as enforcement officers, they are considered MPA “ambassadors”: they are the contacts who interact with 98% of MPA users. There is an important outreach and education component to the job, and our partners at CaMPAM (the Caribbean MPA Managers Network) — who help develop community campaigns to build community compliance with regulations — assisted with that aspect.

For more information:

Jayson Horadam, MPA Enforcement International. Florida, US. Email: j.horadam [at]

Transcript available from debate on environmental impact of marine reserves

More than 800 audience members attended our 8 October 2013 online debate on the total environmental impact of no-take marine reserves, featuring Callum Roberts and Ray Hilborn. Roberts argued that the impact of reserves is positive, while Hilborn argued it could be negative.

The debate transcript is at The transcript also includes the parallel discussions that occurred within the audience during the debate.

England gets 27 new MPAs

In November, the UK's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced the designation of 27 new marine conservation zones (MCZs) in English seas, covering a total area of 9700 km2. The new sites include coral reefs, oyster beds, and an array of other features. However, they represent four fewer sites than UK ministers proposed, and less than a quarter of the 127 zones recommended by the government's own consultation, which included its leading science advisers. Furthermore they include no no-take zones - they are all multi-use.

"We very much see the new MCZs as the beginning and not an end," said Environment Minister George Eustice. He added that consultation on two more phases of MCZs would start in 2015.

Similar programs are operating in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to contribute to a UK-wide network of MPAs. The Defra announcement for England, including a map of the 27 sites, is at

CCAMLR again fails to reach consensus on large new MPAs in Antarctic

International efforts to reach consensus on designating large new MPAs in Antarctic waters failed for the third time in a row at the October 2013 meeting of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). At the meeting, a proposal from New Zealand and the US to designate a 1.34 million-km2 no-take MPA in the Ross Sea (MPA News 15:2) and a separate proposal from Australia, France, and the EU for a network of MPAs in East Antarctica were each stymied by continued opposition from major fishing nations - namely Russia and Ukraine.

Supporters are expected to try again at the next CCAMLR meeting, in October 2014. CCAMLR, which consists of 25 member nations, sets conservation policy in the Southern Ocean. To pass new regulations, all delegates representing the member nations must reach consensus.

Draft report calls for "net benefit policy" on coastal activities next to Great Barrier Reef

A draft strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef, released in November by the Australian and Queensland governments, analyzes the issues facing the reef and states that "urgent and immediate" action is required to reduce sediment, nitrogen, and nutrient flows into the reef ecosystem. "Water quality in the region has declined markedly, especially in inshore areas adjacent to the developed coast," says the report. The reef has lost about half of its coral cover in the past 30 years. The report calls for a "net benefit policy" to ensure coastal activities produce an overall benefit to the reef.

The draft assessment provides extensive detail on management approaches taken by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on water quality and several other issues. It is open for public comment until 31 January 2014, and is available at

Report available on US MPAs

A new report from the US National MPA Center provides a snapshot of the coverage, level of protection, protected resources, and ecological representativeness of MPAs in the nation's waters. "Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time" also features brief case studies in MPA management from around the country. US MPAs protect natural and cultural heritage in approximately 8% of the nation's waters. The report is at

Legal aspects of connectivity conservation

Protected areas, if not complemented by conservation initiatives outside their boundaries, are at risk of becoming ecological islands. As such they can face even greater threats from development and climate change than they otherwise would. Protected areas need to be "connected" to their broader landscapes and seascapes if they are to survive and maintain their biodiversity values and functions over time.

A new publication from IUCN analyzes the legal and policy aspects of this connectivity - conservation initiatives outside protected areas that are needed to sustain and increase those protected areas' resilience. With chapters on basic principles of connectivity conservation and legal issues, as well as a special section on marine connectivity, the report is among the first of its kind. The 217-page The Legal Aspects of Connectivity Conservation - A Concept Paper is available at

Note to readers: Revision to LMMA Lessons piece

The LMMA Lessons piece in the September-October 2013 MPA News - "Appropriate ground rules for non-local partners in community-based management" - was revised in October to reflect more up-to-date insights on the subject matter. The revised version is available here.