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In February 2016, the South African Government announced its proposal to designate a network of 22 new MPAs in the nation's waters. The proposed network is newsworthy in itself: if designated, it would increase South Africa's MPA coverage from 0.05% of its marine waters to more than 5% in one fell swoop. But it represents more than just that. Namely, it is one of the first outputs of an ambitious program to transform the way that all of South African government works.

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The political spotlight that often shines on MPAs has fostered a view that they pertain only to addressing the effects of fishing, as that is the role that attracts the most media attention. But that view sells MPAs short. In truth, MPAs can play valuable roles in addressing a variety of non-fishing-related threats facing the oceans.

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By Handoko Adi Susanto

In 2014 at the end of his term, Indonesia's President S.B. Yudhoyono passed a law that changed the roles of local and provincial governments in marine resource management.  Under prior law, district (i.e., local) governments had held authority to manage marine resources out to four nautical miles from the coastline, with provincial governments then managing from the 4-nm line to 12 nm (see footnote).  But under the new law, Law No. 23 of 2014, that local authority was transferred to the provincial level.  As a result, provincial governments now have authority from the shore to 12 nm - including for exploration, exploitation, conservation, marine spatial planning, and other management of marine resources - and local governments have none.

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By Patrick Christie and Nai'a Lewis

Although the median size of MPAs worldwide is less than two square kilometers, it is the very large MPAs - those larger than about 250,000 km2 in area - that account for a majority of conserved ocean area globally.

Due to the size of these large scale MPAs (LSMPAs), they can impact multiple communities and stakeholder groups.  As well, even when they are initiated by local communities or NGOs, they must still be established by national governments.  The process overall can feel top-down and, if not handled appropriately, can leave stakeholders feeling alienated.  These factors, among others, can make it easy to characterize LSMPAs as being designated primarily for political gain, and as a conservation model that disenfranchises local communities and indigenous people.

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Seeking marine nominations: 2016 Packard Award and Kenton Miller Award

Nominations for marine candidates are strongly encouraged for two global awards celebrating exemplary achievement in protected areas. Both awards are presented by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), and winners will be announced at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September this year.

The nomination deadline for each award is 30 April 2016 (please disregard the 31 March deadline posted on the award websites):

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When nations gathered in Paris last December to forge a pact on climate change, the agreement's original text made no mention at all of oceans. Not only did this oversight ignore 71% of Earth's surface; it also overlooked the fact that marine ecosystems act as an enormous climate control system.

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In Seychelles, a unique project is underway. It links a restructuring of some of the island nation's international debt with a financial mechanism to support adaptation to climate change, namely through improved marine and coastal ecosystem management. That management will include a marine spatial plan for the Seychelles' 1.37-million-km2 EEZ in which up to 30% of the area will be designated for high and medium levels of biodiversity protection.

Presented by Seychelles officials at the Paris climate summit in December 2015, the project is fairly complex.

MPA News

The UK Government has announced its intent to designate a large no-take MPA around part of Ascension Island, a remote and lightly populated UK territory in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, just south of the Equator.

Although formal declaration of the MPA's boundaries may not happen until 2017 or later, the UK Government and Ascension Island Government are taking a first step this year, closing an area covering 234,291 km2 (or 52.6%) of the island's waters. This closure is intended to allow research to scope the eventual boundaries of the MPA.

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