Notes & News

MPA News

Report available on state-level MPA policies and programs in US

A new report is available on state-level MPA policies and programs in the US, with analysis of the potential for future federal/state coordination within a national system of MPAs. Published by the Coastal States Organization in cooperation with the National Marine Protected Areas Center, the report examines potential implications for states from a national MPA system and presents a series of recommendations for building such a system. The findings are based on research and interviews with coastal and ocean managers from the 35 coastal states, territories, and commonwealths.

The report - State Policies and Programs Related to Marine Managed Areas: Issues and Recommendations for a National System - and a supplemental publication containing case studies are both available online at http://www2.mpa.gov/mpa/mpaservices/virtual_library/publications.lasso.


Online discussion board available to coral reef MPA practitioners

A new online resource for sharing knowledge and posting inquiries on coral reef conservation and coral MPA management is available. The CORAL Discussion Board, launched in April by the US-based Coral Reef Alliance, provides a free web-based forum for practitioners and stakeholders to discuss issues related to the conservation of coral reef ecosystems. Organized by topic - such as coral park management or self-financing of MPAs - the board provides a viewable history of discussions, allowing visitors to benefit from the accumulated information over time. To join the discussion board, visit http://www.coral.org/cdb.

Rich Wilson, outreach coordinator for the Coral Reef Alliance, says the discussion board will complement the existing Coral Health and Monitoring listserv, also known as Coral-List (http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov). Coral-List, operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is primarily intended for use by coral health researchers and scientists, whereas the CORAL Discussion Board is aimed at a broader audience, says Wilson. "Anyone who has an interest in coral reef protection is welcome to participate in the discussions on this site," he says. "As more discussion is generated, new forums within the board will be established, based on the needs and interests of users."

The Coral Reef Alliance provides other resources to coral MPA practitioners as well, including seed money to participants in the organization's workshops, onsite training and technical assistance for park managers, and a set of best practice guidelines for diving, snorkeling, and other marine recreation activities (MPA News 4:6). To learn more, visit the Coral Reef Alliance website at http://www.coral.org.

For more information:
Rich Wilson, The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), 417 Montgomery Street, Suite 205, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA. Tel: +1 415 834 0900 ext. 307; E-mail: rwilson [at] coral.org


MPA Lesson Learned: Connecting with local media

Through most of the 1990s, the Bonaire National Marine Park in the southeastern Caribbean received little attention from local Bonaire media. Although park staff produced press releases about activities in the park, these materials were usually ignored. "There was an underlying lack of connection between the park and the press," says Kalli De Meyer, who was director of the marine park at the time.

This changed in November 1999 when Hurricane Lenny lashed Bonaire's shores. "In the midst of the mayhem, while the marine park was hurriedly trying to assess the impact of the storm waves, the press called," says De Meyer, who is now executive director of Coral Resource Management, a not-for-profit corporation based on Bonaire. "It seems we were the only ones brave or foolish enough to venture out of the marina, and the local press was desperate to get photographs and a first-hand impression of what was happening. Risking life, limb, and boat we took them out."

It was as if this opened a door between the park and the media, she says. "Because the marine park came through when the media desperately needed assistance, the media began to recognize the park as something of interest," she says. Afterward, reporters began to contact the park for information on other issues. "What we learned was that telling them was not enough - they needed to be involved," she says. "Also, helping the media to cover what they saw as newsworthy gave us the credibility to begin telling them what we thought was important."

For more information:
Kalli De Meyer, Fundashon Pa Bon Koral (Coral Resource Management), Bara di Karta z/n, Bonaire. Tel: +599 788 9080 or +599 790 0721; E-mail: kdm [at] bonairelive.com