France sets MPA target: 20% of waters in MPAs by 2020
In July, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced new targets for the protection of France's maritime territory. He called for the percentage of French waters in MPAs - currently just 1% - to be increased to 10% by the year 2012, and to 20% by the year 2020. Furthermore he called for half of the protected waters in 2020 to be in no-take marine reserves. As France's maritime territory covers 11 million km2 (second largest maritime territory in the world, after the U.S.), this would amount to more than 2 million km2 under some form of protection, and 1 million km2 in new no-take areas.
"The example France is going to set [with the new MPAs] will pave the way for an unprecedented effort to preserve the oceans, recover fish stocks, and safeguard all those who depend every day on the fertility of the seas for their livelihood," said Sarkozy. The new targets were delivered as part of a broad overhaul of French maritime policy announced the same day.
For President Sarkozy's speech announcing the new targets, go to www.ambafrance-uk.org/President-Sarkozy-on-France-s.html.
Report provides frank, long-term outlook for Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has produced a report for the Australian government summarizing the past and present condition of the Great Barrier Reef and an outlook on its possible future. The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 concludes that climate change, poor water quality from catchment runoff, loss of coastal habitats from coastal development, and impacts from unsustainable fishing are all reducing the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, the ecosystem is vulnerable to dramatic decline unless those threats are addressed. It is the first report of its kind for the marine park.
"Unavoidably, future predictions of climate change dominate most aspects of the Great Barrier Reef's outlook over the next few decades," states the report. "The extent and persistence of the damage to the ecosystem will depend to a large degree on the amount of change in the world's climate and on the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem in the immediate future." Grimly, the report notes that even with recent management initiatives to improve resilience in the park, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef "is poor" and "catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be averted." In other words, if changes in the world's climate become too severe, no management actions will be able to protect the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.
The report states that to give the ecosystem its best chance at adapting to and recovering from the serious threats ahead, managers will need to improve water quality, reduce the loss of coastal habitats, and increase knowledge about fishing and its effects. To download the outlook report or an "In Brief" version, go to www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/about_us/great_barrier_reef_outlook_report.
Celebrating 40 years of declared fish habitat areas in Queensland
The Australian state of Queensland is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its declared fish habitat area (FHA) network, which protects critical fish habitats from the impacts of development, while still allowing legal fishing. Queensland designated its first seven FHAs in 1969. Today the state has 70 declared FHAs protecting 8800 km2 of fish feeding, breeding, and nursery habitats. The network contributes an estimated AU$40 billion a year (US$34 billion) in ecosystem services to the Queensland economy. For more information on the 40-year anniversary, go to www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/28_13189_ENA_HTML.htm.
South Australia announces revised boundaries for marine parks
In July the South Australian government announced revised boundaries for the 19 marine parks in the state's forthcoming network of MPAs. With the amended boundaries, the system covers 44% of state waters. Management plans for the new MPAs, including zoning, will now be developed in consultation with industry and other community stakeholders.
When the parks' provisional boundaries were announced last January (MPA News 10:8), the system covered 46% of state waters. Following a public comment period, the boundaries were revised to accommodate fishing and tourism industry concerns about economic impacts and conservation concerns that not enough of each bioregion was adequately represented. For more information on the South Australian marine parks network, including maps, go to www.marineparks.sa.gov.au.
U.S. designates Arctic area off-limits to new commercial fishing activity
In the U.S. the Obama administration has approved a management plan that prohibits commercial fishing in the nation's Arctic waters until more information is available to support sustainable fisheries management there. The new Arctic Fishery Management Plan covers an area of roughly 150,000 square nautical miles (514,000 km2) in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas where there is currently no significant commercial fishing. But warming ocean temperatures, migrating fish stocks and shifting sea ice conditions from a changing climate may potentially favor the development of commercial fisheries. "This plan takes a precautionary approach to any development of commercial fishing in an area where there has been none in the past," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in announcing the plan.
Before commercial fishing is allowed there in the future, the plan requires studies on the nature and extent of indigenous fish stocks and how they interact in the Arctic ecosystem. Conservation and management decisions will then be made, including catch levels, fishing gear, bycatch, and areas permitted for fishing with appropriate monitoring. The plan is available at www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/fmp/arctic/ArcticFMP.pdf.
New MPAs approved for north central coast of California
In August, the Fish and Game Commission of the U.S. state of California approved a plan for a system of 24 MPAs covering 20% of state waters along its north central coastal region. In total, the system of MPAs covers 153 square miles. Of that, 86 square miles - or 11% of state waters in the region - will be no-take. The MPAs will take effect in January 2010.
The regional planning was part of a multi-stage approach to implement California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The north central coast study region is the second of five statewide study regions to complete the MLPA planning process. The first was the central coast region, whose process was described in our June 2007 and July 2007 issues (MPA News 8:11 and 9:1). The next regional planning process, already underway, covers the north coast of California.
For more information on the north central coast study region, including maps of the newly designated MPAs, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/northcentralhome.asp.
"Statement of concern" to be presented to UN
A statement signed by more than 200 marine scientists will be presented to a side event of the UN General Assembly on 15 September, expressing concern that not enough has been done to protect deep-sea ecosystems from bottom fisheries and calling for a temporary ban on bottom fishing on the high seas. The statement coincides with the scheduled UN review of a 2006 resolution by the General Assembly (Resolution 61/105) that urged flag states and regional fisheries management organizations to protect deep-sea ecosystems from the effects of bottom fishing. Signatories to the statement of concern say those authorities have failed to conduct comprehensive assessments of deep-sea ecosystems, gauge the effects of bottom fishing on them, or protect those ecosystems - actions all required under the 2006 resolution."With 227 signatures, and still growing, I think the scientific concern speaks for itself," says Jeff Ardron of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, which led the statement signature-gathering effort. For more information on the statement of concern, go to www.mcbi.org/what/highseas_letter.htm. Resolution 61/105 is at www.un.org/Depts/los/general_assembly/general_assembly_resolutions.htm.
In U.S., National MPA Center starts second round of MPA nominations
Managers of marine protected areas in the U.S. that are eligible to be part of the national system of MPAs are invited to nominate their sites to be part of the system. This is the second round of nominations for the national system. The first was held in fall 2008 and resulted in acceptance of an initial group of 225 sites.
The national system of MPAs contains sites managed by all levels of government. Its purpose is to facilitate partnering at regional and national levels on MPAs to achieve common objectives for conserving the nation's important natural and cultural resources. The system does not bring state, territorial, or local sites under federal authority, nor does it restrict or change the management of any MPA. All nominations for the second round are due to the MPA Center by 6 November 2009. More details on the national system of MPAs can be found in the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States of America, available at www.mpa.gov/national_system/final_framework_sup.html.
LMMA Network releases annual report
The 2008 annual report of the Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network has been released. The LMMA Network is a group of practitioners - traditional leaders, conservation staff, university researchers, and others - working to improve locally-managed marine areas in the Indo-Pacific through the sharing of experiences and resources. The annual report describes progress on the program's objectives, challenges faced by practitioners, and highlights from each country's efforts. Community-based MPAs play a prominent role in the program. The report is available at www.lmmanetwork.org.
Report: advice on good practices for involving stakeholders in MPA planning
A new report for the U.K. government provides dozens of suggestions for good practices on how to involve stakeholders effectively in MPA planning. With findings from a global survey of MPA practitioners as well as other information sources, the report is designed for use in the U.K.'s initiative to plan Marine Conservation Zones. Although U.K.-focused, the report offers useful advice for MPA practitioners elsewhere on topics like preparing for stakeholder participation, designing the participatory process, deciding which stakeholders to include (and when to include them), and building trust. The report was commissioned by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. A link to the report in PDF format is at www.naturalengland.org.uk/about_us/news/2009/190809.aspx.