Due to an impasse in recent weeks between US President Donald Trump and Congress over whether to spend billions of dollars to extend the wall on the nation’s southern border, about one-quarter of the government was shut down – with no funding to conduct operations – and most employees furloughed for a period that stretched to 35 days. Finally, on 25 January, President Trump announced the full government would be reopened for three weeks to allow time for more negotiations on the border wall. However, if there is no resolution by mid-February, another shutdown remains a possibility.
Nearly 500 MPA practitioners worldwide tuned in to a pair of webinars in early December 2018. The online events examined the standards all MPAs should meet, and defined what is and is not an MPA. They also presented the emerging consensus around types of MPAs according to their stage of establishment and level of protection. These clarifications may well play a fundamental role in determining whether the world meets international targets to protect 10% of the ocean by 2020. They may also influence the MPA field’s post-2020 agenda.
A new online collection system for MPA user fees – gathering entrance charges, annual passes, day passes, dive tags, and other payments – is available to help managers collect the fees safely and easily. It also collects demographic and contact information on MPA users in an easy-to-access database. This latter feature allows managers to understand their user base and, if desired, engage again with previous visitors.
By Sangeeta Mangubhai
The Vatu-i-Ra seascape in Fiji, including and surrounding Vatu-i-Ra Island, lies between Fiji’s two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. It includes an extraordinary 27,000 km2 of forests, mangroves, seagrass meadows, reefs, deep channels, and seamounts.
By Zachary Plopper
On 1 January 2019 a new law takes effect in California (US) to address commercial-scale poaching in the state’s marine protected areas. Assembly Bill 2369, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, substantially increases fines and penalties for commercial poaching in the state’s MPAs. The bill, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on 25 August 2018, was supported by diverse coastal stakeholders in California including conservation organizations, businesses, angler clubs, and tribes.
By Heather Welch, Elliott Hazen, and Dana Briscoe
In the early 2000s, the dataset from (US) federal fisheries observers for California’s drift gillnet fishery was examined and a concerning pattern emerged. During warm-water years, endangered juvenile loggerhead turtles were coming closer to shore in southern California, which occasionally resulted in bycatch in drift gillnets. These were relatively rare events, which meant there was not enough distribution data to understand the underlying mechanisms, but the relationship between turtles and temperature was strong enough to warrant action. In 2003, NOAA Fisheries (the US federal fisheries agency) established the Loggerhead Conservation Area – a seasonal fisheries closure off southern California that is enacted for months between June and August when El Niño conditions are declared or forecasted to occur, or simply when sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal.
These recent articles or preprints on MPA-related science and policy are all free to access.
Article: Lundmark, C., Sandström, A., Andersson, K., Laikre, L. Monitoring the effects of knowledge communication on conservation managers’ perception of genetic biodiversity – A case study from the Baltic Sea. Marine Policy 99, 223-229 (2019).
By Anne Nelson, Lauren Wenzel, Gabrielle Johnson, and Gonzalo Cid (IMPACT Team)
The end of a year is a great time for reflection. Often there is a slower pace and some time away from work that allows a few moments to pause and plan.
You have achievements every day in your MPAs. Yet often the challenges, threats, and constraints make us focus on what is not working instead of what is.
Seychelles to lead new Commonwealth Blue Charter action group on MPAs
Seychelles has announced it will lead a new intergovernmental action group on marine protected areas. The action group is under the aegis of the Commonwealth Blue Charter – a coordinated push by the Commonwealth countries to protect the ocean from an array of threats, including climate change, pollution, and overfishing.
As the 2020 deadline grows nearer for nations to set aside 10% of waters in well-managed MPAs (Aichi Target 11), planners are being challenged to provide advice on what to protect and where to protect it. Climate change is making those decisions harder. As evidence mounts that warming oceans are already having effects on ecosystems, planners are faced with forecasting the changes the future could hold – then figuring how MPAs could account for those changes.