Notes & News

MPA News

Correction:
In our November 2004 issue the e-mail address provided for William Alevizon, author of the essay "Divers Feeding Fishes: A Continuing Issue in MPA Management", was incorrect. His correct e-mail address is wsawsa [at] hotmail.com.


Victoria (Australia) bans seismic testing in marine national parks, sanctuaries

The state government of Victoria, Australia, has banned seismic testing inside the state's marine national parks and sanctuaries as a precautionary measure. Seismic testing is used by the petroleum industry to explore for oil and gas below the seabed and involves high-intensity sound waves (MPA News 5:10). In an announcement of the ban on 16 November, government ministers said there was "insufficient evidence to prove that seismic testing has absolutely no impact on marine environments." Conservation groups have charged that the loud sounds generated by such tests can disorient or even deafen marine wildlife, including marine mammals. Drilling for petroleum was already prohibited in Victoria's marine national parks and sanctuaries, whose boundaries extend to 200 meters below the seabed, but could still have occurred below that boundary as long as drilling was directional (from outside the MPA boundary). The ban on testing, however, prevents discovery of new oil or gas reserves under these protected areas, making such deep drilling unlikely.

The Victorian government designated 13 marine national parks and 11 marine sanctuaries in 2002 (MPA News 4:7), setting aside a total of 540 km2, or 5% of the state's waters, as no-take. Seismic testing for offshore oil and gas is still allowed in the remaining 95% of Victorian waters.


Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia to be 34% no-take, up from 10%

The government of Western Australia has announced a new management plan for its coral-laden Ningaloo Marine Park that will increase the site's no-take zoning from 10% to 34% of the park. Officials expect the plan and new zoning to take effect by the end of this year, once notification and gazetting processes are completed. In addition, the government extended the boundary of the park to include a remaining unprotected portion of Ningaloo Reef; that extension expands the marine park to 2640 km2 in total area.

Ningaloo and an adjoining terrestrial park reportedly generate AU$127 million (US$96 million) annually for Western Australia. Government leaders said the expansion of no-take zones would protect the reef and the state's economy. "Without the reef, there will be no tourism and no future for the region," said Premier Geoff Gallop. Snorkeling and diving will be allowed in the no-take zones.

A public process to plan the new management scheme received thousands of public comments earlier this year. The new plan has been strongly criticized by recreational fishing organizations in the region, which have charged that the planning process allowed insufficient public input and that the expanded no-take zones will be much costlier to enforce than alternative policies proposed by anglers, including the use of catch-and-release fishing areas rather than no-take zones in the newly extended area of the park. "We are not opposed to sanctuary zones, but we don't like them all being put in the best fishing spots," says Frank Prokop, executive director of Recfishwest, a recreational fishing association (http://www.recfishwest.org.au).

For more information:
Andrew Hill, senior marine planner, Marine Conservation Branch, department of Conservation and Land Management, Hackett Drive, Crawley WA 6009, Australia. E-mail: andrewhi [at] calm.wa.gov.au

Frank Prokop, Recfishwest, PO Box 57, Claremont WA 6010, Australia. E-mail: recfish [at] recfishwest.org.au


New Zealand designates long-debated reserve

After more than a decade of public consultation and discussions among government departments and stakeholder groups, New Zealand has designated a no-take marine reserve in Paterson Inlet and surrounded it with an indigenous-managed fishing zone, or mataitai. Together, the 10.8-km2 Ulva Island-Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve and 90-km2 mataitai (Te Whaka a Te Wera) account for nearly all of the inlet, home to four species of primitive marine invertebrates, called brachiopods or lamp shells - a focus of scientific interest. Paterson Inlet, also known for its exceptional water quality, is on the east coast of Stewart Island, 150 km south of the two main islands of New Zealand.

Local iwi (indigenous people) had opposed the idea of a reserve on the site until 2002, when the government proposed designating the mataitai as well. This is the first time the New Zealand government has paired the designations of a marine reserve and a mataitai. Recreational fishing associations still oppose the reserve; they had wanted instead for the whole area to be designated as a mataitai, with no reserve. Recreational fishing is allowed for now in the mataitai, although long-term regulation of the mataitai will be managed by an indigenous committee. Commercial fishing has been prohibited in the area since 1994.

For more information:
Sean Cooper, Southland Conservancy, Department of Conservation, PO Box 743, Invercargill, New Zealand. E-mail: scooper [at] doc.govt.nz


Report: Cruises pose threat to Arctic archipelago

The increasing popularity of Norway's Svalbard archipelago as an Arctic cruise destination has amplified the threat of an eventual oil spill that could seriously damage its most vulnerable areas, according to a new report by the WWF International Arctic Programme. Norway has several marine protected areas in Svalbard that total roughly 80,000 km2. Several groundings of cruise ships have taken place in the region in recent years, although no major oil spills have occurred yet. "It is only a matter of time before there is a major oil spill on Svalbard," says report author Miriam Geitz. "The only way to lessen this threat is to ban ships from the most vulnerable, high value areas." Geitz says most such areas are already designated as MPAs, but no park management plans are in place and access is unrestricted apart from a small number of specially designated reserves. From 2001 to 2003, the number of Svalbard sites where cruise tourists go ashore increased from 138 to 162.

The report also describes an array of other tourism-related threats to the region - pollution from wastewater and garbage, introduction of invasive species, and wildlife disturbance, among others - and offers recommendations to operators and authorities on addressing each of these. The 80-page report Cruise Tourism on Svalbard - A Risky Business? is available online in PDF format at http://www.panda.org/downloads/arctic/wwfcruisetourismonsvalbard2004.pdf.

For more information:
Miriam Geitz, WWF Arctic Programme, Kristian Augusts gate 7A, Box 6784 St. Olavs Pl, 0130 Oslo, Norway. Tel: + 47 22 03 65 00; E-mail: mgeitz [at] wwf.no


Paper: Efforts to expand no-take reserves must address social hurdles

Efforts to achieve a significant expansion of no-take reserves worldwide - such as the 20-30% target called for by marine delegates to the 2003 World Parks Congress (MPA News 5:4) - face several "collective action problems" that must be overcome before the goals can be reached, according to a review paper by geographer Peter Jones of University College London (UK). Focusing on challenges involved in securing agreement and cooperation from fishermen, the study discusses those raised by divergent aims, locality, lack of predictability, different types of knowledge, the role of advocacy, level of decision-making, and enforceability.

"There are risks involved in pushing to expand no-take zones without an analysis first of conflict implications and institutional approaches to addressing such conflicts," says Jones. "As no-take zones are ultimately about altering behavior of humans, studies based on social sciences - on how they might be designed, implemented, and enforced on a collective basis - are essential." The paper has been accepted for publication in 2005 in the journal Marine Policy. For a pre-publication copy of the paper, e-mail p.j.jones [at] ucl.ac.uk, or write Peter Jones, Environment & Society Research Unit (ESRU), Dept. of Geography, UCL, Remax House, 31-32 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7DP UK. Tel +44 20 7679 5284.


Book provides guide to cetacean MPAs

A new book examines how MPAs can help protect cetaceans - whales, dolphins, and porpoises - and, to an extent, how the presence of cetaceans can be used to aid MPA planning and management. Detailing the status, process, and potential for cetacean habitat conservation, the book cites steps for creating better protected areas for cetaceans. It also describes habitat needs for 84 species and lists more than 500 MPAs that have been designated or proposed to protect cetaceans worldwide.

"The biggest threats to cetaceans are degradation of critical habitats, overfishing and bycatch, and marine pollution," says author Erich Hoyt, senior research fellow at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a UK-based NGO. "The threat best addressed by MPAs is degradation of critical habitat for feeding, breeding, and other social activities." Hoyt writes that critical habitat for cetaceans is a fairly new idea and is yet to be fully explored, much less implemented. Identifying the critical habitat of cetaceans will be the first step toward good marine management of MPAs for cetaceans, he says. Because marine habitat boundaries (such as hunting and feeding areas) may be relatively fluid due to changing oceanographic conditions, he argues for MPA networks and flexible MPAs, with regular adjustments of boundaries as needed.

To achieve this level of adaptive habitat management, says Hoyt, it will be necessary to incorporate ecosystem-based management in the MPAs. To that end, the presence of cetaceans can serve as an ecological monitor for the overall health of the marine environment. Disturbances in the food chain caused by overfishing or environmental changes, for example, can affect cetacean distribution markedly. Hoyt adds that the popularity of cetaceans can help increase community support for an MPA and educate locals to the impacts of their activities on the animals and their habitat.

The 512-page Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A World Handbook for Cetacean Habitat Conservation is listed at £24.95 (US$39.95) but may be purchased at discount through the publisher Earthscan at http://www.earthscan.co.uk, or through online booksellers including www.phinz.com (which offers a free poster of cetacean MPAs with book purchase).

For more information:
Erich Hoyt, North Berwick, Scotland. E-mail: erich.hoyt [at] mac.com; Web: www.cetaceanhabitat.org


Marine reserves and MPA networks can help reduce poverty, says study

NGOs need to improve their use of conservation activities to reduce poverty wherever possible, including by establishing marine reserves and MPA networks, according to a study by The Nature Conservancy, a US-based NGO. "Making fisheries more sustainable is generally good for both poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation," the authors write. "One of the best tools for sustainable fisheries is marine protected areas with zones in which all extractive activities are prohibited." The study cautions, however, against expecting biodiversity conservation to reduce poverty in all cases. "Biodiversity conservation's utility for poverty reduction should not be overstated," it says. "The two are complementary so long as they are specifically targeted at areas where the known preconditions for success exist." The study, "Direct Benefits to Poor People from Biodiversity Conservation" is available online in PDF format at http://www.conserveonline.org/2004/11/c/en/LayoutA4Screen1.pdf.


Report: More than half of world's corals reefs endangered

Over 58% of the world's tropical and temperate coral reefs are endangered due to an array of human impacts, including sedimentation, land-based pollution, overfishing, and climate change. This is according to the 580-page, 2004 edition of Status of Coral Reefs of the World, released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), a partnership of governments, institutes, and NGOs from more than 80 countries. The report provides an update on the previous edition, released in 1994.

In addition to reviewing trends in reef status by region, the report reviews progress in coral reef monitoring and status since 1994, as well as progress in monitoring coral-reef MPAs. For the first time, it also assesses the status of cold-water, or deep-sea, coral reefs around the world. The report is available online at http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/research/coral-bleaching/scr2004/index.html.