November - December 2014 (16:2)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA140.pdf

This past November in Sydney, Australia, more than 6000 protected area practitioners, scientists, heads of state, indigenous leaders, and business executives gathered for the once-a-decade World Parks Congress, hosted by IUCN. In size and importance, the WPC is a big event for the global protected areas community. The Congress recommends goals for the next 10 years of protected area practice, including targets for protected area coverage. Although these goals are non-binding on governments, they represent expert advice from practitioners, as well as a call to arms for effective protection and a gauge of current priorities in the field.

The WPC is also an opportunity to announce new projects, publications, and concepts, and the Congress featured a multitude of these. In this issue of MPA News, we walk you through the highlights of the Congress. In future issues, we will examine some of these highlights and concepts in greater detail.

A rebuke of the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10% coverage target for MPAs

The main output of the WPC was "The Promise of Sydney" - a lengthy statement that provides a roadmap for the next ten years of protected area practice. The Promise offers recommendations on a wide variety of protected area issues, from responding to climate change, to supporting human life, to respecting indigenous knowledge, and more (

Participants in the Congress's Marine Theme provided their own specific recommendations (see the box below, "The Promise of Sydney: Official recommendations on MPAs"). Among these, the primary recommendation was this:

"Recommendation 1. Urgently increase the ocean area that is effectively and equitably managed in ecologically representative and well-connected systems of MPAs or other effective conservation measures. This network should target protection of both biodiversity and ecosystem services and should include at least 30% of each marine habitat. The ultimate aim is to create a fully sustainable ocean, at least 30% of which has no extractive activities."

The goal of 30% no-take coverage amounts to a rebuke of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11, which was set in 2010. Aichi Target 11 calls for just 10% of marine areas to be conserved in MPAs or other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020. Under that target, the MPAs also don't need to be no-take (MPA News 12:3).

The WPC's 30% no-take goal is ambitious. Current no-take coverage still amounts to less than 1% of the world ocean. (Notably the Promise of Sydney sets no deadline for meeting the 30% target.) That being said, it reinforces a goal set at the last World Parks Congress, held in 2003 in Durban, South Africa, where participants recommended that 20-30% of the world's oceans be placed in no-take areas. (In Sydney, the 30% no-take figure was somewhat of a midway point between Aichi Target 11, on the low end of MPA coverage goals, and calls for "Nature Needs Half" on the high end. The latter is a campaign among several conservation NGOs to protect at least half of the world ecosystem as wild nature space -

The Promise of Sydney emphasizes that it is not enough to plan no-take MPAs amid otherwise un-conserved ocean space. As stated in Recommendation 1 above, the ultimate aim is to create a fully sustainable ocean. In his presentation of the Marine Theme recommendations at WPC, Dan Laffoley, marine vice-chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas, said, "The danger is creating islands of hope in a sea of despair. There needs to be strong protection for habitats throughout the oceans."

BOX: The Promise of Sydney: Recommendations on MPAs

Participants in the Marine Theme at the 6th IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, delivered the following official recommendations for the coming decade:

  1. Urgently increase the ocean area that is effectively and equitably managed in ecologically representative and well-connected systems of MPAs or other effective conservation measures. This network should target protection of both biodiversity and ecosystem services and should include at least 30% of each marine habitat. The ultimate aim is to create a fully sustainable ocean, at least 30% of which has no extractive activities.

  2. Renew and expand our commitment to management effectiveness of all MPAs, based on best available scientific and other information and partnerships with stakeholders, including communities and resource users, to fulfill the potential of these areas.

  3. Integrate marine protected areas into the broader seascape and landscape through large-scale marine management initiatives which strengthen networks of marine protected areas, tackle threats that emerge from outside these areas, and combine protected areas with other management tools to pursue a long-term vision for the area.

  4. Include MPAs in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Post-Hyogo framework, recognizing them as cost-effective solutions for climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

  5. Take steps to protect and manage biodiversity in the high seas, including the seabed, by developing, adopting and bringing into force an international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and through regional efforts in Antarctica, the Arctic, the Sargasso Sea and elsewhere.

  6. Within the post-2015 UN development agenda, include smart ocean targets under the proposed Sustainable Development Goals such as food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable consumption and production and climate change as well as a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for the global ocean.

  7. Collaborate to detect and prevent illegal fishing and other illegal activities at sea, with a focus on MPAs as the front line in this effort, which will apply existing and new technology and surveillance information and support collaborative learning among fisheries and MPA managers.

  8. Design and manage MPAs for human as well as ecological benefits, through committed partnerships and engagement with indigenous and local coastal communities, resource users and other stakeholders, as well as new partnerships with humanitarian, development and human rights organizations.

  9. Strengthen support for marine conservation actions by (a) scaling up the many effective and inspiring solutions being undertaken by coastal communities and resource user groups around the world; and (b) using new technology, social media and learning networks to reach new audiences.

  10. Develop innovative partnerships to (a) accelerate and secure new long-term funding for sustainable ocean management through creative financing and other tools; (b) apply and improve environmental standards and transparency in supply chains that influence the oceans; (c) harness the unique skill set of the business and private sector to help tackle marine conservation challenges (e.g., technology, facilities, business skills, engineering, marketing, and communications) and (d) facilitate the sharing of data.


Leaders of several nations announced new commitments to MPA designation and management at the World Parks Congress:

Gabon announced it would designate a network of MPAs covering 23% of the nation's waters, or roughly 46,000 km2. Commercial fishing will be off-limits in the network, which is intended to protect whales, sea turtles, and other marine species inhabiting the nation's coastal and offshore ecosystems. The network will include a 27,000-km2 expansion of Mayumba National Park, extending out to the limit of the nation's EEZ. Currently just 1% of Gabon's waters is in MPAs. (Following the World Parks Congress, the United Arab Emirates announced it would donate a dozen speedboats and a surveillance plane to Gabon to help the latter enforce its forthcoming MPA network.)

Comoros committed to protecting 5% of its EEZ in MPAs by 2017.

Madagascar committed to tripling its MPA coverage in the next 10 years.

Australia committed to ending the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for capital dredge purposes. This decision relates to a controversial plan by the Australian Government to dump three million cubic meters of dredge spoil inside the marine park (MPA News 16:1, 15:6, 15:4), a plan that the Government has since reversed. The Government's new proposal is to dump the spoil on land in the nearby Caley Valley wetlands, an ecosystem that hosts tens of thousands of birds from dozens of species at peak times of year. WWF Australia and other conservation groups oppose this proposal, too (

Russia committed to increasing its MPA coverage to 170,000 km2 in the next 10 years.

South Africa committed to tripling its MPA coverage in the next 10 years.

Brazil committed to protecting 5% of its marine waters by 2020.

French Polynesia committed to creating a new large-scale MPA initiative in the Austral Islands.

The Republic of Kiribati and the US signed a cooperative agreement to coordinate their respective research and protection of their adjacent MPAs: the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati) and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (US). The combined area, known as the Phoenix Ocean Arc, covers an ocean space totaling 1,270,000 km2.

BOX: Voyage of the vakas

To open the World Parks Congress, four sailing canoes, called vakas, arrived in Sydney Harbour, completing an 11,000-km trip across the Western Pacific. Crewed by islanders from Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, and New Zealand, the vakas relied almost entirely on traditional navigation techniques. The expedition delivered the following message to the Congress from Pacific Island nations:

"We see the signs of overexploitation. We no longer see the fish and other marine creatures in the size, diversity or abundance of the past. We witness the change as foreign fishing fleets ply our waters in a race to strip our resources. Our coral reefs, the greatest in the world, and our mangrove and wetland spawning grounds are disappearing. Our ocean is vast but not limitless.... growing global populations and the relentless pursuit of unsustainable development are reducing the ability of our ocean to sustain life."

For more information on the voyage and its message:

The World Parks Congress offered a high-profile opportunity for institutions to launch new publications on protected areas. Here are a dozen publications that were revealed in Sydney.

Protected Planet Report 2014 (UNEP World Commission on Protected Areas; 80 pp.)

This is the latest in a series of reports to track world progress toward achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity's goal for global protected area coverage (Aichi Target 11). That target calls for at least 10% of coastal and marine areas to be conserved through "effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative, and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020." According to the latest tally, 3.4% of the total ocean is currently in MPAs. That figure rises to 8.4% if only waters inside national jurisdictions (0-200 nm from shore) are considered, and to 10.9% in coastal waters (0-12 nm from shore). The high seas, outside any national jurisdiction, have just 0.25% MPA coverage.

To meet the 10% target in areas within national jurisdiction, a further 2.2 million km2 of MPAs will be required. For the 10% target to be reached on the high seas, an additional 21.5 million km2 will need to be protected there.

Few countries outside of the eastern Pacific Ocean have reached the target of 10% of marine areas protected; most countries report protected area coverage between 1% and 5%.

SeaStates G20 2014 report (Marine Conservation Institute, 18 pp.)

This report compares how the countries with the 20 largest economies in the world (the "G20 countries") compare in marine conservation, as measured by the percentage of their national waters set aside in no-take areas. Compiled using the MPAtlas database (, the report finds the US leading in no-take area coverage, with 9.88% of its waters off-limits to fishing. Only four other G20 countries have no-take coverage above 1%: UK (9.73%), South Africa (4.46%), Australia (4.13%), and Saudi Arabia (2.14%). "G20 member countries are the most financially able countries in the world," states the report. "Yet their commitment to protecting their coastal waters is lacking."

Protected Area Governance and Management (IUCN, 1000 pp.)

Announced at WPC, this enormous book will cover all aspects of protected area governance and management - combining original text, case studies from across the world, and the latest scientific literature. Five editors, 164 principal and supporting authors, and 27 peer reviewers contributed to the publication over a period of two and a half years. It will be available in print copy and free online in February 2015 at the URL below.

A Primer on Governance for Protected and Conserved Areas (IUCN, 24 pp.)

A basic text on the types of governance for protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. The primer also describes the IUCN principles of good governance for protected areas, and outlines the concept of governance vitality.

Building Networks of MPAs: New Insights from IMPAC 3 (supplement to the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems; 245 pp.)

This journal supplement features 19 articles on key outcomes from the Third International MPA Congress (IMPAC 3), held in 2013 in Marseille, France. Covered topics include governance challenges, achieving ecological coherence, managing for migratory species, regional management issues, innovation in MPA communications, and much more. The articles are available for free.

Executive Summary: Focusing Action, Picking Up the Pace for Ocean Conservation (IMPAC 3 organizers; 60 pp.)

This report is the official summary of the Third International MPA Congress (IMPAC 3), held in 2013 in Marseille, France. It describes the conference's day-by-day coverage of issues, the high-level policy meeting that was convened immediately after IMPAC 3, and the planning for IMPAC 4, which will be held in Chile in 2017.

Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Sustainability (IUCN; 269 pp.)

This is the third edition of IUCN's tourism management guidelines report, and represents a major update of the previous 2002 edition. The report includes contributions from more than 50 experts worldwide, and examples from 45 countries. It concludes that increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development as long as well-functioning management systems are in place. The guidelines are intended to apply equally to terrestrial and marine protected areas - there is no separate chapter on MPAs. The report was launched at WPC but will not be available until 2015. However, a review copy of the report is available at the URL below.

Tourism Concessions in Protected Natural Areas: Guidelines for Managers (UNDP; 304 pp.)

This publication helps protected area staff to develop and manage concession activities in ways that maximize the benefits to conservation and communities. It walks the reader through planning for concessions, conducting environmental impact assessments, awarding business opportunities, working out contracts, monitoring performance, and more.

Fishermen Engagement in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A Key Element to the Success of Artisanal Fisheries Management (WWF MedPAN North project; 135 pp.)

This report describes several Mediterranean cases in which the designation of coastal MPAs, coupled with the involvement of artisanal fishermen in site planning and management, has resulted in stabilized or increasing fisheries yields. It calls for the same co-management approach to be applied broadly to Mediterranean MPAs as one of the solutions for sustainable fisheries.

Communicating for Success: Ensuring MPAs Are Valued (IUCN and the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries; 48 pp.)

This guidebook outlines how to use communication not just as a tool for outreach but as a mechanism to help change a community's attitude and behavior toward an MPA. The publication describes how to create, implement, and evaluate a communication plan, as well as build communication partnerships.

The Futures of Privately Protected Areas (IUCN; 128 pp.)

This report offers a framework to allow governments to expand their use and support of privately protected areas (PPAs) as a conservation tool. It describes motivations behind the creation of PPAs, their advantages and disadvantages, social issues involved, and global PPA coverage. Most of the report's examples are terrestrial, with a few marine exceptions.

Attaining Aichi Target 11: How Well Are Marine Ecosystem Services Covered by Protected Areas? (The Nature Conservancy, University of Cambridge, World Resources Institute; BirdLife International, and UNEP-WCMC; 7 pp.)

This discussion paper overlays preliminary global maps of marine ecosystem services (fisheries, tourism, coastal protection) with MPA boundaries. Among its conclusions: marine ecosystem services need more systematic representation within protected areas, and this should be integrated into ongoing efforts to optimize MPA network expansion.

Compendium of Training Courses on Coastal and Marine Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas in India (Wildlife Institute of India and GIZ India; 128 pp.)

This report provides details on training courses in coastal and marine biodiversity and protected areas in India, and also offers profiles of the 27 institutions offering such courses. It is intended as a source of reference for anyone considering professional training in the sector, while helping the training institutions forge linkages with one another.

BOX: General coverage of the World Parks Congress

Two innovative technology tools were featured at the World Parks Congress:

Global Fishing Watch (

This new tool, currently in prototype form, is designed to eventually allow the public to monitor the activity of commercial fishing vessels worldwide, including if those vessels are straying into no-fishing zones. The prototype displays routes taken by more than three thousand commercial fishing vessels in 2012 and 2013, as indicated by transmissions from the vessels' onboard Automatic Identification Systems (AIS). Based on various factors, Global Fishing Watch predicts whether each vessel was actively fishing at any particular place and time. Eventually the positioning data will be available in real-time, say the developers - a partnership of Oceana (, SkyTruth (, and Google. (FISH-i Africa, a somewhat similar but unrelated program for monitoring illegal fishing in southeast African countries, already coordinates real-time monitoring of AIS data by regional authorities:

Challenges face any tool that is based on AIS data. Among these, vessels are currently allowed to turn off their AIS whenever they want, and there is reportedly software available that enables vessels to hack their own AIS transmissions, sending out false location information ( That being said, the Global Fishing Watch prototype was greeted with significant enthusiasm at the World Parks Congress.

Release of GBR visual record from Catlin Seaview Survey (

The Catlin Seaview Survey, which aims to create a baseline photographic record of coral reef health worldwide, released more than 100,000 images that the project has taken of the Great Barrier Reef since 2012, spanning 32 locations along the 2300-km reef. Publicly available for the first time, this visual record provides high-definition, 360-degree underwater views, with accurate GPS locations. The viewing effect is similar to Google's Street View on land, and allows for easy comparisons of reef health over time. Project partners include insurance firm Catlin (, the University of Queensland (, Google, and Underwater Earth (

The IUCN Green List of Protected Areas, which recognizes protected areas that are successfully meeting their objectives, was officially launched at the World Parks Congress in Sydney. The Green List's first group of approved sites includes three MPAs: Gorgona Island Marine Park (Colombia), Iroise National Park (France), and Cerberè-Banyuls Marine Natural Reserve (France). There are also 21 terrestrial sites on the list.

The Green List is a voluntary standard. When protected areas and their agencies apply for Green List standing, they must demonstrate performance and outcomes against several criteria. These include design and delivery of real conservation programs for key values; governance that equitably shares the costs and benefits of conservation actions; and effective management and operations. IUCN considers the Green List to be the first global standard to define excellence in protected area management.

For the past two years the Green List has undergone a pilot phase ("The Coming Age of MPA Certification?", MPA News 15:3). During this phase it was tested by eight partner countries: Australia, China, Colombia, France, Italy, Kenya, South Korea, and Spain.

The Green List has now moved into a development phase for 2015, 2016, and 2017, and is welcoming new commitments from partner countries, agencies, site managers, and stakeholders worldwide.

For more information on the Green List, including its criteria and how to apply for listing, go to

UNESCO's World Heritage Marine Programme was busy at the World Parks Congress:

  • The Programme released a new four-minute film, narrated by supermodel and UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment Gisele Bündchen, profiling conservation achievements at three WH marine sites: Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles), iSimangaliso Wetland Park (South Africa), and Glacier Bay (US).

  • The Programme publicized its new smartphone app to share data, reports, and decisions related to the conservation of WH marine sites. (scroll down page)

  • IUCN launched its new World Heritage Outlook website (, providing assessments of all 222 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List for their natural Outstanding Universal Value. This includes the 45 marine WH sites. In addition, IUCN released a report on the ecosystem services provided by natural WH sites:

The World Heritage Programme was also the subject of attention from NGOs. An alliance of several conservation groups (African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Nature Conservancy, The WILD Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, and the Zoological Society of London) called for all natural WH sites to be made off-limits to commercial extractive activities. Of note: Kiribati's 408,250-km2 Phoenix Islands Protected Area, a World Heritage site, is scheduled to ban commercial fishing as of 1 January 2015 (MPA News 15:5).

Again, CCAMLR fails to find consensus on proposals for large MPAs in Antarctic

At its annual meeting in October 2014, the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed for the fourth meeting in a row to reach consensus on proposals to designate large new MPAs in Antarctic waters. The two proposals - one from New Zealand and the US to create a 1.34 million-km2 no-take MPA in the Ross Sea; the other from Australia, France, and the EU for a network of MPAs in East Antarctica - were blocked by Russia and China.

The two MPA proposals have been put forward in various forms at CCAMLR meetings since 2012 (MPA News 15:1 and 15:2). CCAMLR, which consists of 25 member nations, sets conservation policy in the Southern Ocean. To pass new regulations, all member nations must agree to them.

The Ross Sea proposal is at

Information on the East Antarctica proposal is at these two links: and

Review available on high seas bottom fisheries closures

A new working paper is available on high seas bottom fisheries closures, reviewing how these closures can protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The paper describes current efforts by regional fisheries management organizations to implement this tool, and outlines options for addressing fisheries in any new international agreement on high seas biodiversity. Released by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (known by its French acronym IDDRI), the paper "Advancing marine biodiversity protection through regional fisheries management: a review of high seas bottom fisheries closures" is at

Study analyzes optimal enforcement in Costa Rican MPA

A new study in the journal Oryx analyzes five years of patrol records from Costa Rica's Cocos Island National Park to predict where and when future illegal fishing activity will occur in the 2000-km2 no-take MPA. The researchers suggest their methods could be applied to MPAs elsewhere to help optimize patrol effort and the spending of limited enforcement funds.

Identifying patterns among the 300 recorded incursions in Cocos, the study team found illegal fishing was concentrated on a seamount and peaked during the third year-quarter, likely as a result of oceanographic conditions (e.g., seasonal variations in mixed-layer depth). The lunar cycle also played a role: incursions peaked during the first- and last-quarters in the lunar cycle, when ambient light is reduced. The study was led by Adrian Arias of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Australia). Cocos Island National Park is a World Heritage site.

The abstract of the study "Optimizing enforcement and compliance in offshore marine protected areas: a case study from Cocos Island, Costa Rica" is available at For the full article, email the authors (contact information is on the link).

Draft toolkit available on managing cultural resources in MPAs

The (US) National MPA Center has released an online toolkit to guide MPA practitioners in managing cultural resources at their sites. Cultural resources include shipwrecks, archeological sites, and sites important to indigenous people. The Cultural Resources Toolkit was developed by the Cultural Heritage Resources Workgroup of the MPA Federal Advisory Committee. It is a work in progress: the MPA Center will augment and expand the content over time, incorporating users' feedback. The Toolkit is available at

US expands shipwreck MPA to nearly 10 times its size

In September, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it is expanding the boundary of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary from its prior size of 1160 km2 to 11,137 km2. The MPA, located in freshwater Lake Huron along the US state of Michigan, protects more than 50 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from 19th-century wooden side-wheelers to 20-century steel-hulled steamers. The expansion will extend protection to 47 additional known historic shipwrecks. The MPA prohibits taking or destroying underwater cultural resources or intentional altering the lake bottom. The official notice of the expansion is at The MPA's website is

Study: How mismanaged must a fishery be to benefit from a reserve and spillover?

A new modeling study of no-take marine reserves concludes that in fisheries where there is effective management, such reserves are unlikely to produce a net spillover benefit for the total fishery. In contrast, reserves may be beneficial where the fishery has been mismanaged and stocks severely depleted. "This model-based result is consistent with the literature of field-based research where a spillover benefit from reserves has only been detected when the fishery is highly depleted, often where traditional fisheries management controls are absent," write the study's authors.

They acknowledge, however, that reserves can serve a range of conservation purposes beyond just fisheries enhancement, including habitat protection and bycatch reduction. Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study was conducted by a team of Australian researchers. The team was led by Colin Buxton of the University of Tasmania, who is a member of Australia's new Expert Scientific Panel to review zoning plans for the country's marine reserves. The study is at

Journal issue on marine managed areas

The journal Advances in Marine Biology has published an issue titled "Marine Managed Areas and Fisheries". It features 10 articles on case studies of MPAs, their objectives, and their outcomes. The abstracts are available for free; the full articles are available for purchase.

BOX: From the MPA News vault: Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: November-December 2009 (MPA News 11:3)

  • Seismic surveys and MPAs: How should managers address the issue of underwater noise?
  • Notes & News: UK launches consultation on MPA around Chagos Archipelago

Ten years ago: December 2004 - January 2005 (MPA News 6:6)

  • Invasive species: Their threat to MPAs, and how practitioners are responding
  • UCN recommends temporary ban on high-seas bottom trawling

Fifteen years ago: December 1999 - January 2000 (MPA News 1:4)

  • How should we manage for the effects of natural hazard events on MPAs?
  • MPA nomenclature: The thicket of terms and definitions continues to grow

For these and all other issues of MPA News, go to