October 2016 (18:1)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA151.pdf

Dear reader,

Welcome to the 151st issue of MPA News — our first all-electronic issue! If you previously received MPA News on paper, we have switched you to email delivery. This change is helping us to reduce our production costs and improve our service to you in various ways.

As I explained in our last issue, we are also returning to monthly distribution — the same frequency we had for the first decade of MPA News. In general this will mean more frequent and more concise issues. This particular issue, however, is longer than usual because a lot happened in the MPA world in September 2016. The flexibility of our new email-only distribution allows us to be able to adjust our length to report on significant developments as they happen.

We have also launched our new website, which is now integrated with our affiliated site OpenChannels.org.

Thanks for reading MPA News!

John Davis
Email: mpanews [at] u.washington.edu

P.S. The designation under CCAMLR of an MPA in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, completing several years of effort by nations and NGOs toward that goal, happened just as this issue of MPA News was going to press. We look forward to reporting on it in our next issue.

MPA News has been produced for the past 17 years, and a lot has happened in that time. Thousands of MPAs have been designated, hundreds of studies have been published, countless policies and laws have been implemented. But September 2016 was unlike any month we have seen. Over the course of 30 days, more happened in the MPA field than we have witnessed in such a span before:

  • An ambitious new 30% coverage target was set for the MPA field

  • New MPAs totaling millions of square kilometers were designated

  • Commitments to millions more square kilometers in MPAs were announced

  • A major report on ocean warming was published, with significant implications for MPAs as climate reserves

  • The long-awaited review of Australia’s national MPA system was released

  • Major new financing opportunities for MPAs became available

  • MPA coverage in waters within national jurisdictions surpassed 10% worldwide for the first time

  • And much more, all of which we’ll try to cover in this and upcoming issues.

Any of the above-listed items by itself would have normally been the lead article in MPA News. Because they all happened in the same month, we are not even able to include them all in one issue! In early September at the World Conservation Congress in Hawai'i, one attendee asked the assembled crowd, “In light of the flurry of recent MPA designations, have we entered a golden age of marine conservation?” September 2016 sometimes felt like it.

In this issue we recap the new 30% MPA target, the major MPA designations that have been announced in recent weeks, and new publications in the field. In our next issue (November 2016), we’ll explore new financing strategies for MPAs, including one that could revolutionize MPA funding.

The biggest marine news from the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held in Hawai'i in September, was the approval by IUCN members of a new global target for MPAs. It calls for “30% of each marine habitat” to be set aside in “highly protected MPAs and other effective area-based conservation measures” by 2030, with the ultimate aim being ”a fully sustainable ocean, at least 30% of which has no extractive activities.”

Readers of MPA News will notice the similarity to a recommendation that was made at the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney, which also called for a 30% MPA target. However, that earlier recommendation did not include a deadline. In addition it was not formally approved by IUCN’s membership, which comprises a mix of government agencies and NGOs.

On the new target, 129 member states and government agencies voted in favor, and 16 against (for background on countries that opposed it, go here). Among the NGO members, 621 were for and 37 against. IUCN’s members meet in plenary session every four years.

Although the 30%-by-2030 target is not binding on nations, it does represent the most ambitious target adopted so far for the MPA community. As has been seen with Aichi Target 11 — which calls for 10% MPA coverage by 2020 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity — such percentage-based targets have helped motivate governments to designate MPAs. The latest global assessment by IUCN finds that 10.2% of waters within national jurisdictions are now in MPAs — an increase of 1.8% in just the past two years. (For the entire global ocean including high seas, MPA coverage is at 4.1%.)

Debating percentage-based targets

MPA News has covered percentage-based goals for MPAs since 2000, when they first began to appear in policies. Although they may have little bearing on the day-to-day management of MPAs, they provide a simple (some might say simplistic) indicator of progress across the field. And they provide a relatively tangible goal for planners and negotiators.

That is not to say that such targets are not controversial. They have always spurred debate. Letters to MPA News 15 years ago suggested such targets were based more on politics than science and similar arguments were made by target opponents at the World Conservation Congress (WCC). Several scientists have argued otherwise, including in studies that were cited in the IUCN motion for 30% coverage.

A new article in the journal Aquatic Conservation (“‘Dangerous Targets’ revisited: Old dangers in new contexts plague marine protected areas”) suggests percentage-based goals can give the illusion of progress, and that actual outcomes for conservation and planning do not always measure up. As one example of this: roughly one-fourth of US national waters are in MPAs, yet almost all of that MPA area (96%) is around relatively remote tropical Pacific islands, not around the temperate continental US.

Graham Edgar, who described five characteristics that determine MPA effectiveness in a 2014 study (i.e., no-take; enforced; older than a decade; larger than 39 square miles; and isolated by deep water or sand), says ambitious targets reward governments for creating large MPAs in locations where no or few users are operating. “If the caveat ‘of each habitat’ in the WCC 30% target is ignored, as seems likely, the net result is that maritime business can continue as usual, with negligible reduction in environmental pressures,” he says. “Overall, we are heading towards good MPA protection of isolated tropical systems, and little protection in populated temperate regions with unique but threatened biodiversity that continues to decline.”

That being said, Edgar acknowledges that two of the five factors he identified for MPA success — large and isolated — are consistent with big, remote MPAs. In that sense, expansive targets that catalyze more large MPAs will increase the number of effective MPAs worldwide. “However, a set of MPAs that are individually effective ticks only part of the requirement for an effective global network,” he says. “In addition to effectiveness, comprehensiveness is also needed, making sure that all MPA eggs are not placed in one ecosystem basket.”

The next horizon: 50% MPA coverage?

The controversial nature of percentage-based targets has not stopped some from reaching for even higher goals than 30%. At the World Conservation Congress, calls for 50% MPA coverage came from several high-profile speakers, including oceanographer Sylvia Earle and biologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson published a book this year titled Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, in which he argues that to stave off a mass extinction of species, half of the planet’s land and water should be dedicated to nature. The separate Nature Needs Half campaign, coordinated by WILD Foundation, has made similar arguments for several years.

In turn these calls may be supported by a sobering new IUCN report on ocean warming, which documents that species and habitats are already shifting due to climate change, and that these will challenge the current borders of MPAs. As a result, the report concludes, significantly larger MPAs and MPA networks, as well as the ability to change boundaries, will likely be needed.

The call for 50% MPA coverage has even been echoed by the executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias.  In a high-level panel on oceans at the World Conservation Congress (video here), Dias gestured toward Edward Wilson in the audience and said, “I’m confident that we’ll get to half-Earth. I think what Professor Wilson proposed is feasible, and we should be looking at that as a more mid- [to] long-term goal. We have the knowledge.”

Getting to 50% MPA coverage — even moreso, 50% no-take coverage — would require a seismic change in political attitudes. We are nowhere near that figure: current global MPA coverage remains just a fraction of it. But progress toward the 10% Aichi target is being made.

Past MPA News coverage of percentage-based targets:

Climate change is already causing significant impacts to the world ocean, according to a new report by IUCN that is the most comprehensive review so far on the subject. Compiled by 80 scientists from 12 countries, the report finds ocean warming is already:

  • Driving entire groups of species such as plankton, jellyfish, turtles, and seabirds up to 10 degrees of latitude toward the poles;
  • Causing the bleaching and death of many coral reefs and other fish habitats;
  • Causing the loss of breeding grounds for turtles and seabirds;
  • Affecting the breeding success of marine mammals;
  • Increasing disease in plant and animal populations, and impacting human health as pathogens spread more easily in warmer waters, including cholera-bearing bacteria and harmful algal blooms.

In addition to examining global trends, the report looks at regional impacts. In Southeast Asia, for example, fisheries catches could fall 10%-30% by 2050 compared to the period 1970-2000, due to warming-related shifts in the distribution of fish species.

“We were astounded by the scale and extent of ocean warming effects on entire ecosystems made clear by this report,” says Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas at IUCN, and one of the lead authors.

Recommendation: larger MPAs and MPA networks

To combat these impacts, the most important step will be to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially, state the authors. The ocean’s ability to absorb large amounts of CO2 is likely to decline as the ocean warms, which will only speed up climate change unless severe emissions cuts are made.

Along with emission reductions, larger MPAs and MPA networks are needed to increase ecosystem resilience to warming, according to the report. Implementing these may increase the likelihood of conserving species following climate change-induced range shifts, namely by ensuring that future habitats for wildlife are protected. MPAs can also help reduce the total number of stressors on ecosystems.

This is consistent with arguments made by the administration of US President Barack Obama in August, when he expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and referred to it as a “climate reserve”. In an essay in support of the expansion, John Holdren, co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, wrote, “In short, marine reserves support climate resilience.”

Major international conferences like the World Conservation Congress in Hawai'i provide a high-profile opportunity to launch new publications. Several that debuted at the WCC are listed below:

  • Protected Planet 2016: UNEP and IUCN’s latest global accounting of the progress of protected area designation finds that 4.1% of the global ocean is now in MPAs. That figure rises to 10.2% when considering just marine areas within national jurisdiction, without the high seas. Representativeness remains a challenge: only one-third of the world’s 232 marine ecoregions have at least 10% of their area protected. The report also illustrates how protected areas contribute to 15 of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as to targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The report is free.

  • Big, Bold and Blue: Lessons from Australia’s Marine Protected Areas: This 433-page book documents Australia’s wealth of experience in designating and managing MPAs — from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to the Commonwealth Marine Reserve System, state-level MPA systems, and more. With chapters authored by multiple noteworthy Australian and international practitioners, academics, and stakeholders, the book provides an array of case studies, as well as lessons on successes and failures of various approaches to management and governance. It is aimed at an international audience. “There have been no published volumes bringing together the history, current status, and future directions of each of the Australian MPA networks nor perspectives from different sectors on these MPA networks more broadly,” write the co-editors James Fitzsimons and Geoff Wescott. “This book aims to fill this void.” The book is available for AU $89.95 (US $69) at the link above.

  • Special issue of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems on MPAs: This free issue of Aquatic Conservation has 18 articles with information, perspectives, and conclusions gathered from the 6th IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014 in Sydney. It explores MPAs from a variety of perspectives — from global targets to local action — and touches on topics as diverse as high seas MPAs, sustaining fishing livelihoods, marine education, the use of drones, and empowering emerging leaders in the MPA community.

  • Stories of Influence: This free report from IUCN, WWF, and IFAW may be useful to MPA managers encountering the threat of noise pollution from oil/gas exploration and development near their sites. The publication outlines how an international panel of scientists and conservationists has worked with Russian firm Sakhalin Energy to reduce the company’s impacts on critically endangered gray whales in far eastern Russia. The partnership, although not without its challenges, is now credited with helping the population of whales recover from 115 individuals in 2004 to 174 in 2015.

  • Managing MIDAs – Harmonising the Management of Multi-Internationally Designated Areas: Ramsar Sites, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks: An Internationally Designated Area (IDA) is a natural area recognized by a global or regional designation mechanism. There are 263 cases worldwide in which different IDAs overlap with one another, thus carrying two, three, or even four international designations. This free report from IUCN calls these areas Multi-Internationally Designated Areas (MIDAs), and recommends practices for harmonizing their management, conservation, and sustainable use.

Additional outcomes from the World Conservation Congress in September included:

  • IUCN members passed a motion that asks states to advance the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This includes contributing to the ongoing UN negotiations to develop a legally binding instrument that, among other things, would establish a framework for high seas MPAs.

  • An alliance of several leading conservation organizations announced a joint program to identify, map, and conserve key biodiversity areas (KBAs) worldwide, including in the marine environment. The KBA Partnership builds on existing work by Birdlife International to identify Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas. In parallel to the partnership announcement, IUCN released a report outlining a new global standard for identifying KBAs.

  • IUCN presented the Fred Packard Award to Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri and Georgina Bustamante in recognition of their work to advance MPA management in the Caribbean region for over 20 years, including through the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management (CaMPAM) Network and other initiatives. Congratulations to Alessandra and Georgina!

  • Mission Blue (led by Sylvia Earle) and IUCN added 14 new ocean “Hope Spots” to their list of areas deemed critical to the health of the ocean and deserving special protection. There are now 76 Hope Spots worldwide.

  • A webinar on highlights from the WCC, featuring Dan Laffoley of WCPA – Marine and Lauren Wenzel of the NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center, was held on 4 October. The video recording is here.

  • OpenChannels.org and MPA News hosted a live blog of the entire WCC, from the opening ceremony all the way through the members’ assembly. It is available here.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress wasn’t the only conference in September with significant implications for marine conservation. The ‘Our Ocean’ conference, hosted by the US Department of State on 15-16 September, elicited its own slate of commitments by nations’ leaders to conserve their marine waters. Additionally, multiple foundations and NGOs offered their own commitments to support marine conservation in various ways.

These commitments have become a hallmark of the annual Our Ocean conference: it exists largely for nations and institutions to declare what they plan to do, or in some cases what they have already done, to conserve the oceans. The US Department of State claims that, to date, the three Our Ocean conferences have generated commitments to protect 9.9 million km2 of ocean.

The 2016 commitments are listed on the conference website. It is worth reading the entire list. A few of the highlights:

  • The US announced the designation of the 12,725-km2 Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first US marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. It protects three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four seamounts. Much more on this designation is here, here, here, and here.

  • The UK designated two large MPAs and announced plans for designating two more in coming years. These are profiled here.

  • Morocco announced the designation of three MPAs covering 775 km2 on the nation’s Atlantic and Mediterranean shores, as well as plans for a fourth along the Mediterranean by 2018.

  • Colombia announced it will quadruple the size of the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary to cover an additional 20,237 km2. Similarly, Costa Rica announced it will expand the protected waters of the Cocos Island National Park by almost 10,000 km2. More information on these expansions, which are part of a coordinated effort between the two countries and Ecuador to conserve shared resources, is here.

  • Malta announced the designation of nine new MPAs comprising 3,450 km2, covering an area significantly larger than the country itself (316 km2).

On 15 September, the UK Government announced progress on protecting four remote overseas UK territories:

  • Pitcairn: The enormous and long-anticipated MPA around the Pitcairn Islands in the south Pacific is now formally designated. Covering 840,000 km2, or 99% of Pitcairn’s EEZ, the MPA is closed to all commercial extractive activity. Subsistence fishing by locals is still allowed. For background on this MPA and the campaign by Pitcairn islanders for its designation (dating back to 2013), see MPA News articles here, here and here. Additional information from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which supported the Pitcairners on their campaign, is here.

  • St Helena: A 445,000-km2 MPA around the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic is now also formally designated. Fishing will be allowed in this MPA but oil exploitation will not. A spokesperson with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) told MPA News, “Around St Helena, the focus is to ensure that only activities compliant with the MPA are undertaken. St Helena fishing was predominantly, but not fully, aligned already with a Category VI MPA [or ‘Sustainable Use’ in IUCN terms]. The new MPA means that St Helena now has a very clear direction in how it will develop its sustainable fishing industry.” More information on the new MPA is here and here.

  • Ascension Island: An MPA around Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic is on course to be designated in 2019, allowing time for research to scope potential boundaries for the eventual MPA. The UK Government first announced its intent to designate an MPA around Ascension in early 2016. In support of the boundary research, the UK and Ascension Island Governments closed roughly half of the island's waters to commercial fishing earlier this year. The eventual MPA is likely to feature a mix of fished and closed areas.

  • Tristan da Cunha: A protection regime for the entire maritime zone of the island group of Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic — more than 750,000 km2 — is on course to be designated in 2020. The local Tristan community will lead the science-based planning of the protection regime, with the goal of meeting “both local economic and community needs,” said FCO Minister Alan Duncan. The Tristan da Cunha Government has already banned commercial fishing, other than its lobster fishery, from a 50-nm exclusion zone around each of the islands.

Handling the challenge of enforcing large, remote areas

With the newly designated MPAs (Pitcairn, St Helena), the forthcoming protection plans (Ascension and Tristan), and pre-existing MPAs around the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos) and the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, the UK will oversee 4 million km2 of MPAs across its overseas territories by 2020, according to Minister Duncan.

Enforcing such a large and remote expanse of ocean is no easy task. The UK Government has committed £20 million (US $24 million) over the next four years to support the development of expertise in surveillance and enforcement, which will be apportioned and applied across its overseas territories. This is a continuation of joint work by the UK Government, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Bertarelli Foundation, which recently completed a one-year satellite monitoring trial around Pitcairn. The trial used Pew’s Project Eyes on the Seas, which was profiled by MPA News this year. 

One year ago at the Our Ocean Conference in 2015, held in Valparaiso, Chile, the Chilean Government announced its plan to create a large no-take MPA around the Desventuradas Islands, about 900 km off the coast of the country. On 24 August this year, the Government made it official, designating the 297,000-km2 Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park.

The MPA by itself accounts for 12% of Chile’s marine waters, and is the largest MPA in South America. Due in part to its remoteness, the site has very high endemism: 72% of the MPA’s species live nowhere else in the world. More information on the new MPA, including a map, is here.

In 2012, Australia’s ruling Labor Government at the time designated an extensive system of Commonwealth Marine Reserves, increasing the nation’s MPA system from 27 sites to 60 and covering more than 3 million km2 in total. Described by the Government as the most comprehensive marine park network worldwide, the system included the new Coral Sea Marine Reserve, a nearly 1 million-km2 area of which half would be no-take.

The following year, a new Coalition Government was voted into power. The new leaders had campaigned against the reserve system, suggesting it had been imposed without fair or adequate consultation with industry. In response they instituted a review process to reassess the science and zoning of the new reserves. While the review process proceeded, the boundaries of the reserves remained but their management plans were effectively in limbo: their regulations remained as they were prior to designation.

The findings of the two review panels — a bioregional advisory panel and a scientific panel — were finally released in September 2016. Their reports are here. The Director of National Parks is now using the reviews’ recommendations, as well as feedback from an additional public consultation on the reports (ending 31 October), as the basis for preparing new draft management plans for the reserve system.

What the review panels said

In an essay in The Conversation, chairs of the two review panels summarize their main recommendations, which include putting more conservation features — such as seafloor types, canyons, reef, slope, and shelf — in no-take protection. But the reviews also propose a reduction in no-take zones in the Coral Sea, from about 50% to about 41%, and that has drawn criticism from conservation groups and some academics. 

Bob Pressey, a professor in conservation planning at James Cook University, says the reviews were a political process to weaken an MPA system that was already skewed toward avoiding areas popular with fishers. Under the reviews, “Fishing has expanded and ‘conservation’ in general further forced to the residual margins where no-take zones actually make no difference,” he says. “The key lessons are that area and, to some extent, representation of features such as bioregions or seafloor types have been mistaken for measures that reflect conservation progress. They do not.” He and colleagues wrote an essay with their thoughts on the Coral Sea recommendations, available here.

Industry has expressed frustration with the rezoning proposals as well. The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation says the reviews are unnecessarily locking out anglers from Australian waters and are not based on science. And a prominent commercial fishing company that targets tuna and swordfish in the Coral Sea says a Coral Sea closure beyond 20% is unfair to business.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg says the Government anticipates new management plans for the national system will be finalized by mid-2017.

For more information:

Bob Pressey, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Queensland, Australia. Email: bob.pressey [at] jcu.edu.au

Editor’s note: Maru Samuels is Chief Executive of the Iwi Collective Partnership, a 100% tribally owned and operated indigenous fishing enterprise in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Samuels attended the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, investigating whether the indigenous fisheries tribes of Aotearoa should become IUCN members.

By Maru Samuels, Iwi Collective Partnership

At the heart of the global conservation debate is conservation itself. There is an ideological conflict in the answer to the question, what is conservation?

Nowhere has the conflict been more evident than in the photos that adorned the Hawai'i Convention Centre, the venue for the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress.

In the foyer to the HCC were hundreds of photos of nature herself. Images of birds, fish and sea life. They were National Geographic-stunningly beautiful! I would have loved to take any one of them home to Aotearoa (New Zealand) with me.

As beautiful as these images were, there was something glaringly missing and it went to the heart of the debate.

In every single presentation, workshop and exhibition stand involving indigenous peoples, there were photos, too. Except the indigenous photos were contrastingly different. At the heart of their images were both people and place.

In indigenous cultures and beliefs, nature herself is human whereas the Western concept of conservation seeks to divorce the human element from nature. For a visual of what I am saying, check out the spectacular photography of local Hawaiian Kai Markell and compare this to what you find on a typical environmental NGO website.

Image: Attendees at E Alu Pū Global Gathering pray before working on Huilua Fishpond, a traditional Hawaiian aquaculture system (Oʻahu). Photo courtesy of Kai Markell

If you visited one of the indigenous stands at the HCC, you would see and hear indigenous phrases like, “Ko au te taiao. Ko te taiao ko au” – “I am nature. Nature is me.” “Āina momona” – “The fat abundant productive lands.” “Tangata whenua” – “People of the land.” The western approach talks of saving conservation from people. Yet for indigenous peoples, the people are both conservation and the solution.

Until this ideological conflict is acknowledged by the NGOs, colonial state governments and IUCN itself, there will forever be conflict and the beliefs and practices of indigenous peoples will forever remain inferior.

The remedy is not tinkering with external policy like Motion 53.* True sustainable resolution is only possible by getting down to the core of the matter. IUCN, as the global thought leader of conservation, needs to look in the mirror, inside itself at the heart and bones of its founding constitution. Its constitution is fundamentally flawed: it is racist to indigenous peoples, having been developed at a time when some indigenous peoples were enslaved.

IUCN talks of the importance of indigenous peoples and their critical contribution to global biodiversity protection, but it really is lip service. IUCN needs to continue to show leadership in this space by reviewing the problem lest indigenous peoples grow weary and look elsewhere for support — in other global conservation fora where their indigenous values, beliefs and definition of conservation are truly accepted.

For more information:

Maru Samuels, Iwi Collective Partnership. Email: maru [at] iwicollective.co.nz; Web: www.iwicollective.co.nz

* Motion 53 was the IUCN member motion designed to increase global marine protection targets from 10% to a minimum of 30% while also banning any fishing activity inside that 30%. The motion raised concerns for the indigenous fisheries tribes of Aotearoa because domestic implementation could require State confiscation of their Treaty and indigenous property rights, without free and informed consent. Furthermore, 100% of profits from tribal fisheries are used for community purposes. Motion 53 was adopted by IUCN members; however, the New Zealand Government abstained from voting on the motion.

Box: New Zealand Government delays designation of Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary to allow more time for negotiations with Māori

The June-July 2016 issue of MPA News profiled a dispute between Māori tribes (or iwi) and the New Zealand Government over the latter’s plan to designate the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary — a 620,000-km2 no-take area around the Kermadec Islands archipelago, located to the northeast of New Zealand’s two main islands. The Māori Fisheries Trust (Te Ohu Kaimoana), which represents all Māori iwi on fisheries matters, filed suit in March 2016 to block the designation, calling it an illegal confiscation of Māori treaty rights. In mid-September, the New Zealand Government formally delayed the MPA designation to allow more time for negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana to find a compromise. The negotiations are ongoing. More information is here.

Editor’s note: In this issue we introduce a new feature, Blue Solution, which draws from case studies compiled by the Blue Solutions initiative. The initiative supports the exchange of successful approaches to marine and coastal conservation and development — sharing what worked where, and why. Each case is authored by a practitioner and is published on the “marine and coastal” portal of the Panorama web platform. Blue Solutions cover MPAs, spatial planning/management, ecosystem services, fisheries, and more. The initiative also provides trainings and other capacity-development opportunities.

Blue Solutions is implemented jointly by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; GRID-Arendal; IUCN; and UNEP. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

By jacp [at] conanp.gob.mx (Jorge Antonio Castrejón Pineda), CONANP (adapted by MPA News)

High levels of marine productivity around National Park Isla Isabel — located off Mexico’s west coast — attract fishermen, who have used the park’s 1-km2 island as a temporary campsite for almost 100 years. In recent years, a growing number of fishermen and a lack of regulations on camping increased pressure on the island’s resources. Trees were chopped down for firewood. Native birds and reptiles were exploited. The land was used as an open-air sewer. To make matters worse, conflicts were arising between fishermen and national park operators.

CONANP, Mexico’s national parks agency, initiated a participatory process with the local fishermen to improve management of the camping and surrounding marine area, and to ensure that all activities meet environmental regulations. As a result of that process, exploitation of island resources has stopped, and the placement of 30 ecological latrines has provided much improved waste management. Conflicts between fishermen and park personnel have decreased, and new communication channels and joint processes have been enacted to address new conflicts if they arise.

For park operators, the regulation of camping resulted in improved and more efficient use of resources. For the fishermen, the new camping facilities provide security and convenience.

“With the new management approach, things have become better regulated,” says Juan Dovora, fisherman in Isla Isabel. “This was achieved by the hard work of the staff of the park, of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and of the government. When the management plan was being discussed, we [the fishermen] did not want to miss that opportunity.”

For more information on this case, please visit the Panorama web platform.

Canada closes two areas to bottom fishing

In September, Fisheries and Oceans Canada banned the use of bottom-contact fishing gear in two areas off the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The closures are designed to protect sensitive benthic areas, particularly the habitat for cold-water corals and sponges. Together the two new closed areas total more than 9000 km2. Background on the closures, including photos of colorful corals and sponges in the newly closed areas, is available here and here.

New report on state of US MPAs

The NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center has released its latest report on the state of US MPAs, “Conserving Our Oceans One Place at a Time”. Among the report’s findings:

  • The US has more than 1200 MPAs, covering more than 3.2 million km2 or 26% of US waters
  • 13% of all US waters are in no-take MPAs
  • 96% of US MPA area is in the Pacific Islands
  • The area of US MPAs increased over 20 times between 2005 and 2016

First IMMA workshop puts marine mammals on the map

The first workshop to implement a new tool for conservation — Important Marine Mammal Areas, or IMMAs — is occurring in Chania, Greece, from 24-28 October. The workshop is organized by the IUCN WCPA-SSC Marine Mammal Protected Areas (MMPAs) Task Force, which has devised this new tool. The workshop brings together a body of experts from nearly every Mediterranean country to identify sites important to marine mammals.

IMMAs are not MPAs but may lead to a variety of outcomes including MPAs, ship or noise directives, and other conservation outcomes. IMMAs also provide a tool for monitoring marine mammal habitats against the advance of climate change, ocean acidification, and other threats to biodiversity.

The Chania workshop will cover the Mediterranean Sea while future planned workshops will be held in the southern oceans, including separate workshops for the South Pacific, the NE Indian Ocean, the NW Indian Ocean, the SE Pacific, and Australia-New Zealand and adjacent Oceania waters.

While the IMMA workshop process will select areas important to the 140 species of marine mammals, it also integrates with existing conservation measures and will help in the selection of ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs) as devised by the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as key biodiversity areas (KBAs) from IUCN.

For more information about the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force or to view its new poster-map of marine mammal habitats worldwide, go to its new website.

Journal paper: Brexit implications for marine governance

A new article in Marine Pollution Bulletin offers insights on how the decision by UK voters in July to withdraw from the EU could impact the nation’s marine governance. Titled “Brexit: the marine governance horrendogram just got more horrendous!”, the paper was written by Sue Boyes and Mike Elliott of the University of Hull's Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies. The June-July 2016 issue of MPA News also provided some insights on potential Brexit implications for UK MPAs.

New website guides users through surveillance technologies for MPAs

The Stimson Center, an independent US-based policy institute that studies and consults on security and defense matters worldwide, has launched a new website on technologies to protect MPAs. Called Secure Our Oceans, the website guides users through 12 categories of surveillance technologies to learn about the advantages and challenges of each. Categories include acoustic monitoring, aerostats (tethered airships), AIS, buoys, camera surveillance, manned aircraft, radar technologies, satellite observation, and more. Specific examples — including product specs and the direct and indirect costs involved — are provided for several categories. The website also offers case studies of the technologies being used in MPAs.

In addition, the project aims to create teams to build enforcement projects from the ground up for participating MPAs. The teams — including technologists, ocean scientists, and enforcement experts — will produce technology feasibility studies and implementation plans. “Secure Our Oceans connects those in need of technology with a smorgasbord of organized technology opportunities and experts to design sustainable solutions,” states the website.

Study finds marine wilderness areas are generally healthier than marine reserves

A study in the journal Nature compares no-take marine reserves to marine wilderness areas — with the latter defined as being more than 20 hours from the nearest market — and finds that the wilderness areas support more intact ecosystems. Specifically, the remote wilderness areas had higher top-predator biomass than reserves, even when the reserves were old, large, and highly restrictive (no-entry). The research focused on coral reef ecosystems in New Caledonia. “We…demonstrate that wilderness areas support unique ecological values with no equivalency as one gets closer to humans, even in large and well-managed marine reserves,” write the authors. “Wilderness areas may therefore serve as benchmarks for management effectiveness and act as the last refuges for the most vulnerable functional roles.”

From the MPA News Vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: September-October 2011

  • The Surge in Very Large MPAs: What Is Driving It and What Does the Future Hold?
  • Is Mexico's Cabo Pulmo National Park the Most Successful No-Take Marine Reserve in the World?

Ten years ago: October 2006

  • Examining the Role of MPAs in Ecosystem-Based Management, and Vice Versa: Five Examples
  • Lessons Learned on MPAs, Conservation, and Customary Sea Tenure in the Western Solomon Islands

Fifteen years ago: October 2001

  • Sea Shepherd, an International NGO, Participates in Enforcement at Two MPAs
  • Workshop Results: Tips from Managers on Improving Science in MPA Management

For these and all other issues of MPA News, go to https://mpanews.openchannels.org/mpanews/archives

Poetry Corner


By Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley (poetry form: haiku)

nets abundant, food

arrives by changing moon-tides

tiny migrators!

About the poet: Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley is a postdoctoral researcher in aquatic ecology at Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.

If you would like to submit a marine-themed (and ideally MPA-themed) poem to Poetry Corner for consideration, please email it to mpanews [at] u.washington.edu. Selected poets will receive an MPA News tote bag. Poetry Corner is curated by Anna Zivian of Ocean Conservancy.