October 2007 (9:4)

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The 2007 edition of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an annual assessment of the threat of extinction to Earth's plants and animals, contains corals for the first time. Ten coral species are now on the list, including two categorized as Critically Endangered and one described as Vulnerable. The 2007 Red List has also added 74 species of seaweed - up from just one species in the previous edition - with 10 of these seaweeds described as Critically Endangered.

Notably, all of these species are endemic to one place: the Galápagos Marine Reserve.

What do these listings mean for the Galápagos Marine Reserve? And what significance does the Red List (www.iucnredlist.org) hold for MPA practitioners in general? MPA News asked two experts for their insights:

  • Suzanne Livingstone, program officer for the Global Marine Species Assessment, a joint initiative of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and Conservation International that is focused on improving the documentation of marine species on the Red List; and
  • Graham Edgar, a biologist at Conservation International and the University of Tasmania (Australia) who assessed the coral and seaweed species for the 2007 Red List, and formerly served as head of research and conservation for the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos Islands.

MPA News: Does the listing of 10 coral species and 74 seaweed species from the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR) mean that the protected area there has been especially hard-hit by threats to these species? Or were there other factors involved in the geographically specific aspect of these listings?

Livingstone: Before this year, no corals and only one algae species had ever been on the Red List. The main reason was that no one had had the opportunity to assess these types of species for the Red List. Species on the list are terrestrially biased: of the 41,415 species there, only 1453 are marine. Now more effort is being placed on assessing the threat of extinction to marine species.

The Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) is focusing on reef-building corals as one of its first priorities, since they are important primary habitat-producing species. The GMSA is currently completing a global assessment of reef-building corals in a number of regional workshops. The Galápagos corals were the first of the whole group to be assessed, which explains their appearance in the 2007 Red List. Other coral assessment workshops have been held this year in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific regions, and the results from those will appear in the 2008 Red List. Ultimately the GMSA will assess all marine fish and primary habitat-producing species whether they are in tropical or temperate regions.

Edgar: The Galápagos inshore biota include numerous, globally threatened species for several reasons:

  1. The isolation of the archipelago and unusual climatic regime has concentrated a very high level of endemism in a small area;
  2. Galápagos is the focal center for extreme El Niño warming events, greatly stressing marine plants and animals at those times; and
  3. Fisheries have functionally removed key predatory species, particularly spiny lobsters, causing sea urchin barrens to greatly expand and threaten macroalgal communities at the archipelago scale. Thus, there seems to be a particularly nasty interaction between a natural stressor (El Niño) and an anthropogenic stressor (over-exploitation of marine predators).

As it happens, the decline of the listed coral and seaweed species from Galápagos largely happened before no-take conservation and tourism zones were gazetted in the GMR in 2000. It is not yet possible to assess how well the GMR is assisting conservation of threatened marine species because catastrophic declines occur episodically with El Niño, and the last big El Niño event was in 1997-1998. Nevertheless, policing of no-take GMR conservation and tourism zones is currently inadequate, and rock lobster, shark, and grouper numbers continue to decline. So we have grave concerns about impacts on biodiversity of the next big warming event.

MPA News: Many MPA managers worldwide already have species at their sites that are described as threatened on the Red List, including groupers, sharks, various cetaceans, and other animals. Are there any positive aspects to having species in your MPA added to the Red List?

Livingstone: Yes. A common misconception is that the Red List consists only of threatened species. In fact, the aim is to get all species listed on theRed List whether they are currently threatened or not; species not threatened would be listed as Least Concern, Near Threatened, or Data Deficient. [Editor's note: the GMSA holds a goal of adding 20,000 marine species to the Red List by 2012.] This way, it could be seen what percentage of each group of species is threatened. Regarding reef-building coral species, for example, the GMSA will soon be able to review the group as a whole in terms of threat of extinction. Using Red List data, MPA managers will be able to see the level of threat of extinction to the species present in their site, and will also be able to identify what those threats are.

One of the other main uses of Red List data is in spatial analysis: identifying areas of high biodiversity, where and what the main threats are, and where protection and conservation are needed most. The generation of increased assessment information on marine species will help MPA managers to measure the effectiveness of their sites at a species level. The Red List assessments of each species are also updated every 5-10 years, which can assist managers with long-term monitoring and future planning.

Edgar: For biodiversity conservation, data generated by threatened species assessments and ecological monitoring are key to directing funding to where it can do the most good. From a pragmatic point of view, some funding institutions, such as Conservation International, specifically direct funds toward the safeguarding of threatened species, which can be helpful to MPA managers. Another useful aspect of having species added to the Red List is that it focuses international and national attention on the issue of marine conservation. With global listing of threatened species, politicians find it much harder to pretend that everything is fine. In the case of the corals and macroalgae in Galápagos, their addition to the Red List also draws attention to the fact that threats to the marine environment extend much further than the charismatic mammals, seabirds, and turtles. In fact, whole ecosystems are at risk.

For more information

Suzanne Livingstone, Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0266, USA. Tel: +1 757 683 4197; E-mail: SRLiving [at] odu.edu

Graham Edgar, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Taroona, TAS, Australia. Tel: +61 3 6227 7238; E-mail: g.edgar [at] utas.edu.au

More than 400 people from 46 countries gathered in September in Murcia, Spain, to discuss the use of MPAs for ecosystem conservation and fisheries management, mainly in temperate waters. The European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas (www.mpasymposium2007.eu) provided a wide range of findings and perspectives, drawn from a mix of researchers, managers, government officials, and representatives of fishing industries, environmental NGOs, and international organizations.

The symposium was organized by two EU-funded research projects - PROTECT (www.mpa-eu.net) and EMPAFISH (www.um.es/empafish) - that address ecological, economic, and social dimensions of MPAs, including tools for design and evaluation. The project sites range from offshore MPAs and fishing closures in the northeast Atlantic and North Sea, to coastal MPAs in the eastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean.

MPA News attended the symposium and will feature selected presenters and findings in this and next month's editions. The symposium's central themes were the search for common ground across fisheries management and nature conservation in the context of MPA development, and the integration of MPAs within broader ecosystem-based management. This month MPA News offers lessons from two presenters, Mark Mellett and Carissa Klein, who addressed different aspects of the relationship between fisheries and MPAs.

The importance of planning MPAs to be enforceable: Interview with Mark Mellett

Mark Mellett is commander of the Irish Naval Service and associate head of the National Maritime College of Ireland. He is active in the PROTECT project, addressing enforcement and compliance aspects of coldwater coral MPAs. In his decades with the Irish Navy, he has had to enforce a range of fisheries regulations, including closures. Speaking at a roundtable discussion at the MPA symposium, Mellett remarked on the importance of planning MPAs so that they are enforceable. MPA News followed up with the interview below. Mellett offered these comments in a personal capacity.

MPA News: You said that it is more important to have an enforceable system of MPAs than an ecologically perfect system of MPAs. Why do you draw this distinction?

Mark Mellett: If you have a perfect MPA that is easily enforceable then there is no problem. However, if enforcement costs rise because of the complexity of the MPA, you have to consider costs versus benefits. Complexity can be a function of many things, such as the number of stakeholders, geographical location of the MPA, objectives of the MPA, etc. This boils down to choices. For example, in the case of an offshore MPA, the marginal benefit of letting one actor into an MPA to extract resources must be weighed against the increased costs of enforcement, as well as against any benefits that might apply if the MPA were to operate instead as a no-take zone. In addition, allowing some activity, which in itself may have little impact, may generate resentment among those who are excluded.

MPA News: It is commonly believed that involving stakeholders fully in MPA planning is the primary way to achieve greater regulatory compliance and lower costs for enforcement. Can such involvement ever eliminate the need for enforcement?

Mellett: Ultimately it depends on the objectives of the MPA and where it is to be located. In principle, the closer to the coast an MPA is sited, the greater the value from stakeholder engagement and the greater the likelihood of consequential regulatory compliance. In such cases, depending on the activity, the value of co-management as a means of reducing enforcement costs is significant.

Of course, there will be a need to underpin the powerful contribution that civil society can bring by dealing quickly and effectively with "free riders". Stakeholders who make a sacrifice will not tolerate a regime that allows free riders to reap the reward of others' sacrifice.

MPA News: What characteristics make an MPA most and least enforceable?

Mellett: The most enforceable MPAs have simple and fair rules, clear objectives, stakeholder engagement, good enforcement technology, good data, and clear leadership. The least enforceable MPAs have stakeholder resistance, unfair rules, complexity in design, no action toward "free riders", poor enforcement technology, poor data, and lack of leadership.

For more information

Mark A. Mellett, National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy, Cork, Ireland. Tel: +353 21 4970 650; E-mail: mark.mellett [at] nmci.ie

How software can help design MPAs with lesser impact on fishermen

The use of software tools is increasing in the field of MPA design due to their ability to perform complex tasks. By incorporating an abundance of data on species, habitats, and other biodiversity features, programs like MARXAN can help identify networks of sites to meet biodiversity targets while minimizing potential negative impacts on resource users ("Using Computer Software to Design Marine Reserve Networks", MPA News 6:4).

The ability of MARXAN to help lessen the costs of new no-take areas to fishermen was presented by Carissa Klein of the University of Queensland (Australia). Klein analyzed a new network of no-take areas along the central coast of the US state of California, designated in 2007 as part of implementing the state's Marine Life Protection Act. Using MARXAN, she designed an alternative network of no-take areas that achieved the same level of habitat representation as designs for the new network, but at 20%-50% less cost to fishermen (both commercial and recreational).

Klein measured the cost to fishermen in "total fishing effort lost" across 19 fisheries: i.e., the amount of fishing effort that would be lost if an area were closed to all types of fishing. She assumed that lost fishing effort would not be redistributed to other, unprotected areas in the region. (She acknowledges that in reality some of the "lost effort" would be displaced to other areas.) In a parallel analysis, Klein also designed an alternative network that assumed the same level of impact on fisheries as the California network, but was able to incorporate as much as 9.5% more of each habitat in her closed areas.

Key to Klein's research was the inclusion of spatially explicit, fine-scale data from fishermen in her models - namely, the spatial distribution of their fishing effort. She says California's process of designing the actual network was not privy to the same amount of socioeconomic data because it revealed confidential information on individual fishing grounds. Without comprehensive data on current fishing effort, planning processes have more difficulty gauging the expected impact of various network designs on stakeholders.

Despite the effectiveness of MARXAN in designing optimal reserve networks, Klein says the software should not take the place of stakeholder-driven planning processes. "Stakeholders play an important role in designing marine reserves," she says. "For example, they are needed to define biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic objectives, address any objectives that are not incorporated in the software, and support the final outcome. If the planning objectives are clear, MARXAN can support stakeholders in designing marine reserves that represent biodiversity features for a minimal cost." Klein conducted this research in collaboration with Charles Steinback and Astrid Scholz (both of Ecotrust, an NGO) and Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland.

For more information

Carissa Joy Klein, The Ecology Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia. Tel: +61 7 3365 3539; E-mail: c.klein [at] uq.edu.au

BOX: In next month's MPA News

The November 2007 edition of MPA News will feature additional coverage of the European Symposium on MPAs, including:

  • How and why should you factor risk into MPA planning?
  • Is it necessary to involve stakeholders in all MPA planning and management processes?
  • Why is it useful to have prearranged agreements between fisheries and conservation agencies on MPAs?
  • And more.

Editor's note: Richard Kenchington is co-director of RAC Marine, a consulting firm on sustainable management of marine ecosystems and resources. From 1996-1999, he served as executive director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in Australia.

By Richard Kenchington

The IUCN is now engaged in redefining the term "protected area" and reconsidering its system of categorizing such areas. The current categories system is familiar to many in the field of protected areas. It ranges from categories I and II, managed mainly for nature protection, to category VI, managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems by people. (The system is described at www.unep-wcmc.org/protected_areas/categories/index.html.)

From my perspective, it is important that the reworking of definitions and guidance on protected areas (PAs) does not preclude the core concept of the 1988 IUCN resolution that called for a global representative system of MPAs. In crafting its resolution, the IUCN General Assembly envisioned very large MPAs to help meet the then-anticipated commitments of nations to sustainable use and conservation of their EEZs. Comprising most if not all of a nation's EEZ, these MPAs would provide a category VI management regime for sustainable use and contain significant conservation components through categories I and II, as well as optional components of other categories.

Since then, however, two decades of PA practice and diplomatically creative ambiguity have created increasing divergence in how conservation is now envisioned. In one usage, conservation still means ecosystem-scale regimes based on sustainability, along with mandatory strict nature reserve components. While in the other, "conservation" equals "preservation", and "protected area" equals "national park".

Conservation in the marine realm

There is often an implication that PA conservation exists where an agency can manage or exclude most uses or impacts. This is reasonable in the terrestrial realm where a protected area property has effective single-usage title and can be fenced and its access controlled, and flows are generally unidirectional and contained. There are some over-the-fence and atmospheric transfer issues, but the non-pollution issues - invasives, ferals, poaching - can, at least in theory, be addressed through in-park management.

In the marine context, however, there are multidirectional flows. Fences do not work, access is difficult to control, and scales of connectivity can be very large. Very few marine PAs are of a scale where conservation of nature can be achieved solely, or even largely, by a category I or II PA.

For the foreseeable future there are likely to be few situations in which a category I or II no-take marine PA is likely to be large enough to be managed effectively without managing significant effects from surrounding and up-current areas. We may address this by nesting and buffering such PAs within an area managed for multiple use, including sustainable fisheries with several agencies each responsible for different elements of management. Conservation may be the priority objective of one agency, but not necessarily of others (although all would be linked by an overarching objective of sustainability of use/impact and maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystem processes). This would appear to meet the criteria for category VI.

The type and the effectiveness of the management regime is the critical issue. The concept that conservation entails (a) biodiversity maintenance and (b) sustainable use can lead in the direction that all or most of a nation's EEZ should be managed through a multiple-use, category VI-type regime, including and buffering no-take I/II areas and other zones. Such a regime could be managed by a PA agency, another agency, or a partnership.

The "conservation-equals-preservation" PA concept, on the other hand, can lead to a focus on category I/II managed by a conservation agency. If that leads to targets of, say, 20% of all marine habitats in a nation's EEZ as no-take protected areas, it raises two questions:

  • If the scale of unbuffered I/II PAs is such that their internal management cannot reasonably be expected to address most ecosystem services associated with conservation of nature within them, do they qualify for consideration by IUCN as protected areas?
  • If sustainability of use/impact and maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystem processes is an overarching objective for an ecosystem-scale area with embedded I/II areas, but conservation is the major objective of only one agency in an equal partnership of managing agencies, would such an area qualify for consideration by IUCN as a category VI protected area?

There are inevitably circumstances that lead to significant marine/terrestrial inconsistencies. Taking (freshwater) fish but not birds or mammals within category II terrestrial parks appears to be acceptable to terrestrial protected area managers. This is clearly nonsensical in marine environments, where no-take of fish, invertebrates, and algae is as core an element of category II marine PAs as no-take of mammals, birds, vegetation, and logs is for terrestrial category II PAs. It is a dangerous nonsense when it is reflected in national policy and legislation.

There is a risk for both terrestrial and marine PAs in the quest for a single approach. In principle I favor a unifying approach. But I am increasingly concerned that it cannot be done without unacceptable and misleading compromises for marine sites, terrestrial sites, or both.

For more information

Richard Kenchington, PO Box 588, Jamison, ACT 2614, Australia. Tel: +61 02 6251 5597; E-mail: richard.kenchington [at] netspeed.com.au

Latin American Parks Congress: 2008-2018 to be "decade of MPAs"

Participants in the Second Latin American Congress on National Parks and Other Protected Areas, held earlier this month, declared the years 2008-2018 to be the "decade of MPAs". An official statement of the 2200 participants urged Latin American governments to prioritize the establishment of national and regional MPA networks as part of a system of integrated ocean management. The goal is to meet targets set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, including for the designation of representative MPA networks worldwide by 2012 (MPA News 4:3).

The congress was held from 30 September to 6 October in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. Amid concern that the region's rate of MPA designation is too slow to meet the 2012 target, congress participants called for a refocusing of conservation efforts on the oceans. Existing MPAs cover around 0.5% of the marine area of Latin America, while nearly 20% of the continent's land area is protected. "Most of Latin American MPAs are multiple use, small in size, and do not extend far beyond the coastal line," says Imène Meliane, marine programme officer for the IUCN Global Marine Programme. "The task ahead is challenging, and efforts need to continue to make sure that the achievements are not only on paper."

For more information: Imène Meliane, IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica, Apdo. Postal: 146-2150 Moravia, Costa Rica. Tel: +506 241 0101 Ext: 302; E-mail: imene.meliane [at] iucn.org

"Blue Auction" raises US $2 million for marine conservation

The naming rights for several fish species discovered during surveys of the Bird's Head Seascape region of Indonesia were auctioned on 20 September 2007, raising US $2,045,000 to help support conservation programs in the region. Held in Monaco, "The Blue Auction" was sponsored by Conservation International (CI) and the Monaco Asia Society, and hosted by Monaco's Prince Albert II. In all, the right to name 10 endemic species of fish and two non-species items (a patrol vessel and a future expedition in the region) were auctioned. The high bidder for each fish species gained the right to provide the species name in Latinized form.

The highest bid received, US $500,000, was for the right to name a species of Hemiscyllium epaulette or "walking" shark, which crawls on its pectoral fins. Identities of the highest bidders and the names they chose have not yet been disclosed.

Nearly $1.6 million of the auction revenues will support three CI conservation programs in the Bird's Head Seascape, with the remaining revenues dedicated to conservation programs run by two Monaco-based NGOs (Act for Nature and the Prince Albert II Foundation). The Bird's Head Seascape programs to receive funding include a taxonomic capacity-building project for young Indonesian scientists, a marine enforcement initiative, and a marine conservation education program. The surveys in which the species were discovered were conducted in 2006 as part of an ongoing initiative to establish ecosystem-based management in the Bird's Head Seascape, including designation of MPA networks (MPA News 8:4).

For more information: Mark Erdmann, Conservation International Indonesia, Jl. Dr. Muwardi No. 17, Denpasar, Bali 80361, Indonesia. Tel: +62 361 327245; E-mail: m.erdmann [at] conservation.org

DVD available on lessons learned from locally managed areas in Pacific

An initiative to help locally managed marine areas in the Indo-Pacific region benefit from the collective experience of their practitioners has released a DVD featuring lessons learned from the project so far. Produced by the LMMA Network initiative, the DVD has two components: a 25-minute video that describes factors for success as determined by communities and practitioners in managing their marine areas, and a 15-minute feature on the challenges they have faced. It is intended for communities and practitioners similarly engaged in community-based marine resource management, both in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere. The cost of the DVD (The Locally-Managed Marine Area Network: Lessons Learned) is available for free, with a suggested contribution of US $10 to cover materials and shipping. To order, go to www.lmmanetwork.org.

Guidelines available on implementation of EU's Natura 2000 network

The European Commission has released guidelines for implementing its goal of establishing a Europe-wide network of conservation areas (the Natura 2000 network) in inshore and offshore marine environments. The guidelines include best practices on site selection and management issues, as well as case examples of implementation. The document "Guidelines for the Establishment of the Natura 2000 Network in the Marine Environment" is available online at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/marine/index_en.htm.

FAO offers guidance on MPAs as fisheries management tool

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a website for its project to increase knowledge on the contribution of MPAs to fisheries management. One section of the website presents guidelines being prepared by FAO on the design, implementation, and testing of MPAs as a fisheries management tool. The website "Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management" is at www.fao.org/fi/website/FIRetrieveAction.do?dom=org&xml=mpas.xml&xp_nav=1.

Information requested on ship strikes with cetaceans in MPAs

Do you have data on collisions between vessels and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in your MPA? Or information on research being conducted in general on the issue of ship strikes with cetaceans? MPA News readers with such information are invited to contact Koen Van Waerebeek at cepec [at] skynet.be. Van Waerebeek is coordinator of the Vessel Strike Data Standardization Working Group for the International Whaling Commission, and is developing a centralized collisions database.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park offers position statements on variety of issues

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has released position statements on a variety of issues within the park boundaries - from the conservation of various protected species (e.g., dugongs and sharks), to aquaculture, to indigenous participation in management, and more. The position statements may be of value to MPA practitioners elsewhere dealing with similar issues. They are available online atwww.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/about_us/policies. The site also provides links to several established policies and guidelines for the park.

Recfish Australia releases position statement on MPAs

The Australian Recreational and Sport Fishing Industry Confederation, or Recfish Australia, has released a position statement on MPAs. The statement specifies what policies the organization will support and what it will oppose. "Recreational anglers are not opposed to the creation of marine protected areas," states the document. "However, [we] are concerned that no-take MPAs are being created in some areas even when there is little or no evidence that recreational fishing in those areas is having an adverse effect on the marine environment." The position statement is available in PDF format at www.recfish.com.au/policies/docs/Recfish%20Australia%20MPA%20Policy%2021%20September%202007.pdf.

"MPA Tip" is a recurring feature in MPA News that presents advice on planning and management gathered from various publications on protected areas. The purpose is two-fold: to provide useful guidance to practitioners, and to serve as a reminder of valuable literature in the MPA field.

MPA News excerpted the following tip from Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas (IUCN, 1996), edited by Graeme Kelleher and available online at http://app.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/PAG-003.pdf.

Tip: The fundamental criterion for success in MPA planning and management is to bring in from the beginning every significant sector that will affect, or be affected by, the MPA. The reasons for this are simple. First, if those in a sector like fisheries or tourism are not involved from the beginning, they will be inclined to see the MPA planners and managers as either not interested in their sector or actively trying to disadvantage their interests. Second, no expert, however competent, has the detailed knowledge that would allow him or her to define adequately the interests of most sectors.