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The first workshop to implement a new tool for conservation — Important Marine Mammal Areas, or IMMAs — was held in Chania, Greece, from 24-28 October. The workshop was organized by the IUCN WCPA-SSC Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, which devised IMMAs to represent the priority sites for marine mammal conservation worldwide.

Although IMMAs are not necessarily protected areas, they could inform a variety of conservation outcomes, including the siting of MPAs, creation of directives on shipping or underwater noise, and increased monitoring.

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By Angelique M. Songco, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (adapted by MPA News)

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) Act showcases the successful management of a remote no-take reserve in the Philippines. The formulation of policies for TRNP involved multiple consultations with a cross-section of society, from village to national level. The consultative process ensured that the impacted communities and stakeholders were able to shape the contours of the law, thereby embedding fairness in rule-making and inspiring voluntary compliance.

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Mexico designates three marine biosphere reserves

On 5 December the Mexican Government designated three new marine biosphere reserves totaling more than 647,000 km2. All three sites are multiple-use, with some zones that are strictly protected and others that are sustainably managed:

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Dear reader,

Welcome to our second all-electronic issue! If you previously received MPA News on paper, we have switched you to email delivery.

We have returned 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. 

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The world will soon have a new largest protected area, marine or terrestrial. In October, member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed by consensus to designate a 1.55 million-km2 MPA in the remote and relatively pristine Ross Sea. The purpose is to protect benthic biodiversity, populations of commercially valuable toothfish, and critical habitat for penguins, seals, and other predators.

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By Rodolfo Werner, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

This October, something extraordinary took place in the Southern Hemisphere. After years of negotiations at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), 24 countries and the European Union finally agreed to designate the world’s largest MPA in the Ross Sea. This marks the first time that world leaders have agreed — and by consensus — to protect a large area of the high seas from commercial fishing.

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MPA News does not normally report on elections of national leaders. However, the early-November election of Donald J. Trump to serve as the next President of the US could be relevant to the MPA field. In particular there is the possibility it could bring a rollback of some significant MPAs.

Trump has stated his intent to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action” issued by current US President Barack Obama. Depending on how Trump and his administration choose to define “unconstitutional” (the term is often used loosely in US politics), those executive actions could include MPA designations. Namely these would be MPAs that Obama enacted or expanded without congressional approval, using the executive authority accorded to him as President under the US Antiquities Act.

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By Liezel C. Paraboles, Wilfredo L. Campos, and Samuel J. Gulayan

Danajon Bank is the only double barrier reef in the Philippines and across Asia. Historically, this area likely had the richest coastal marine habitats among islands and shoals in Central Philippines (e.g., extensive coral reefs, dense seagrass beds, expansive mangrove areas), and was perhaps the region’s most productive marine area. But because of continuously increasing fishing pressure brought about by an ever-growing coastal population, marine resources in Danajon Bank have been heavily exploited for decades, leading to dwindling fish catches for small-scale fishermen. Thus several NGOs and government agencies have come in to address these threats to coastal marine habitats and the living resources they harbor.

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By Jennifer O’Leary, California Polytechnic State University (adapted by MPA News)

In 2009, the Kenya Wildlife Service and California Polytechnic State Institute jointly established the Science for Active Management program (SAM) to help East African MPA managers and local fishers understand and manage their reefs. At first the program focused on a single Kenyan MPA. At that site, managers had a very low understanding of marine systems and the MPA had lost many corals. Fishers felt disengaged from MPA management and were not contributing actively to management of their fishing grounds. Most people who worked on the beaches serving vacationers had no knowledge of marine ecosystems, and the beaches had been polluted with plastic trash for decades.

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