Notes & News

MPA News

Funding available for coral reef conservation

Projects to reduce or prevent degradation of coral reefs and associated habitats may be eligible for funding from the (US) National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, or NFWF, in partnership with the (US) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program. Grants between US$10,000 and $50,000 will be available, with priority given to projects that either (a) provide hands-on, measurable watershed approaches to reduce land-based pollution and sedimentation to adjacent reefs and associated habitats, or (b) involve efforts to measure and improve management effectiveness of coral reef protected areas. Pre-proposals are due 31 January 2005. Applications will be accepted from US or international NGOs, academic institutions, and government agencies, although priority will be given to projects that focus on US domestic, US insular, Freely Associated States, Caribbean, or Mesoamerican coral reef ecosystems. In 2004, the program provided 26 grants for coral reef conservation projects, totaling US$2.4 million. For more information, visit the program website at http://www.nfwf.org/programs/coral.htm.


Report provides technical advice for national MPA networks

A report with guidelines for establishing and managing MPAs and MPA networks was released earlier this year by the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Produced over two years by a group of technical experts, including fisheries managers and marine biologists from 15 nations, the report provides a concise overview of MPA planning and management, from design principles, to enforcement, to financing, and more. The report also points out the benefits of no-take marine reserves and the need for such areas.

"The task was to provide advice on the prevailing wisdom on marine and coastal protected areas in a format that could give direct advice to the Parties to the Convention on how to make MPAs functional at the national level," says Murray Hosking, who chaired the technical expert group. Hosking is a special advisor to the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) on marine reserves.

"The key advice from the report is fairly simple," says Hosking. "Above all, start somewhere. Gain experience from one MPA and build on it. Develop processes and think about networks. Let local communities into the process, and develop good management and compliance procedures."

The 43-page report Technical Advice on the Establishment and Management of a National System of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas is available online in PDF format at http://www.biodiv.org/doc/publications/cbd-ts-13.pdf.

For more information: Marjo Vierros, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Canada. Tel: +1 514 288 2220; E-mail: secretariat [at] biodiv.org


MPA Spotlight: Vanuatu MPA offers turtle, crab sponsorships to raise funds

The Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu is offering sponsorships of sea turtles and coconut crabs as a way to raise funds for the MPA. Each sponsorship costs US$50 and provides the donor with biological data on the individual creature being sponsored.

The turtles and crabs have been tagged and released by MPA staff as part of programs to monitor and protect these species. Sponsors may give their turtles or crabs a name, which is entered in the MPA's monitoring database. Because the turtle-tagging effort is part of an international initiative (the South Pacific Regional Action Plan), turtle sponsors may also receive updates on where their creatures have been spotted throughout the region. Since June 2004, more than 30 turtles have been sponsored, along with seven crabs, reports Chris Bartlett, a biologist for the MPA.

The MPA also sells T-shirts and MPA memberships to raise funds, in addition to the sponsorships. "These projects have brought financial sustainability to an organization with no other revenue-generating activities," says Bartlett. Funds from sponsorships have been used to purchase new underwater torch lights for turtle catching, lifejackets for boat safety, and a VHF marine radio for contact with shore. Funds have also been used to provide stipends for local volunteer staff.

The MPA is a collaborative effort among eight local villages on the two islands of Nguna and Pele. To become involved in the MPA, each village must select one or two small areas of its reefs to protect permanently, with no fishing allowed. In total, the MPA protects about 3000 hectares of coral reef, rocky volcanic coastline, and seagrass habitat. For more information on the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area and its tagging and sponsorships programs, visit http://www.marineprotectedarea.com.vu.


Report: Measures needed to protect cold-water coral reefs

MPAs should be used along with several other policy tools to protect cold-water coral reefs, which are threatened by bottom fishing, oil exploration, and other human activities, according to a new report published by the UN Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

"Cold-water coral ecosystems are biodiversity hotpots and resources which may be as important as their counterparts in tropical, warm waters," write the authors. "Their conservation, protection, and sustainable management requires a concerted, dedicated approach, and an increase in national and international efforts and commitments." The report recommends a "toolbox" of options to be considered for the reefs' effective conservation, and suggests that stakeholders implement the ones most appropriate to their means. Researchers have only recently begun to appreciate the scale of cold-water coral reef communities and their potential significance to fish and biodiversity (MPA News 3:5). Also called deepwater coral reefs, they are usually found at depths between 200 and 1000 meters; new findings have shown that they exist off the coasts of more than 40 countries. The 84-page Cold-Water Coral Reefs: Out of Sight - No Longer Out of Mind is available online in PDF format at http://www.unep-wcmc.org/press/cold_water_coral_reefs/report.htm.


Report: Nearly half of Caribbean MPAs managed inadequately

Nearly half (48%) of Caribbean MPAs suffer from inadequate management while the management status of another one-third (33%) is unknown, according to a new publication from the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI). The report, titled Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean, adds that only 5% of the region's coral reefs are within MPAs with fully or partially adequate management. The authors suggest that management effectiveness be strengthened through capacity-building efforts, funding, and political support from governments, donors, NGOs, and the private sector. Management effectiveness was measured according to four criteria: existence of management activity, existence of a management plan, availability of resources, and extent of enforcement.

The MPA data comprise one section of the report, which provides a regional view of reef degradation based on several factors, including coastal development, sedimentation, and overfishing. The report provides the first regionally consistent, detailed mapping of these threats, and concludes that nearly two-thirds (64%) of Caribbean coral reefs are threatened by human activities. The 80-page report is available online at http://reefsatrisk.wri.org.


Education journal publishes issue on MPAs

Current: The Journal of Marine Education, published by the (US) National Marine Educators Association, has released an issue devoted to the subject of marine protected areas in the US. The issue explores challenges facing MPA managers, and provides classroom activities that teachers can use to introduce students to concepts discussed in the articles. The issue, Vol. 20, No. 3, was sponsored by the National Marine Protected Areas Center. To order a copy, e-mail Phyllis Dermer, education coordinator of the National Marine Protected Areas Center, at phyllis.dermer [at] noaa.gov.