Notes & News

MPA News

Correction

In the March-April 2011 issue of MPA News, the article "In Colombian MPA, Management Files Suit to Stop Oil Exploration Inside Boundary" misidentified Marion Howard's affiliation with CORALINA, the Colombian government environmental authority for the San Andres Archipelago. Marion Howard is MPA advisor to CORALINA, not MPA coordinator.


Australia sets new policy on compensating displaced fishers

The Australian Government has announced its policy on compensating commercial fishing operators and fishing-dependent communities who are impacted by the designation of new Commonwealth no-take marine reserves. Called the Fisheries Adjustment Policy, it outlines the principles for providing assistance and broadly describes how the level of financial need will be calculated case by case, based on catch records and other industry information. The policy allows for communities and stakeholders to participate in the design and implementation of regional structural adjustment packages.

The policy is nearly identical to the one announced in 2004 by the previous government of Prime Minister John Howard. It remains unclear how the new policy's implementation will differ from the Structural Adjustment Package that was applied following re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. That program, managed by the Australian Government from 2004-2010, suffered from continual expansions in scope and nearly uncontrolled costs, causing it to balloon from an initial estimate of A$10 million to at least A$214 million (MPA News 12:5).

The current government under Prime Minister Julia Gillard has committed to the development of marine bioregional plans and new marine reserves in four identified regions across Australia, and the adjustment policy is intended to support that effort. A draft bioregional plan and marine reserve network for Australia's South-west marine region has just been released (see previous article in this issue), and draft bioregional plans and draft marine reserve plans for the North, North-west and East regions will be announced later this year. A final network of marine reserves is expected to be in place by the end of 2012.

The new Fisheries Adjustment Policy is at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/about/policy.html.


Chile and US cooperating on MPAs

Under an environmental cooperation agreement between the two nations, Chile and the US have established a sister park arrangement between Francisco Coloane Marine Protected Area (Chile) and Glacier Bay National Park (US). Through the partnership, the two MPAs will collaborate to hold workshops, staff exchanges, and other activities to improve management of each site and support long-term protection of natural resources in each country.

Although located more than 10,000 km from each other, the MPAs are quite similar: they share a common climate and geography (glaciers descending to the sea) as well as similar activities (outdoor recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing). They also face similar challenges, as both parks lie near major shipping channels and support multiple endangered species, including whales. For more information on the cooperative arrangement, go to www.state.gov/g/oes/env/trade/chile/158714.htm.


Palau signs agreement with Sea Shepherd to patrol shark sanctuary; Japan objects

Palau has signed a memorandum of agreement with the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for the NGO to protect the country's waters against shark fishing. Fishing for sharks is banned in Palau; its waters are designated a shark sanctuary. The agreement would allow Sea Shepherd to use one of its vessels to patrol Palauan waters against poaching operations, at Sea Shepherd's expense. It is similar to an agreement the NGO holds to patrol the Galápagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador (MPA News 11:5 and 3:4).

Sea Shepherd has established a reputation for employing aggressive actions against fishing operations it considers illegal, including Japan's hunting of whales. As a result of the latter case, the Japanese government considers Sea Shepherd to be a terrorist organization and has objected to Palau's signing of the shark-patrol agreement. Japan has made a counter-offer to patrol Palau's waters with its own vessel. The agreement with Sea Shepherd is now on hold as Palau considers Japan's offer.


Guide on ecological scorecards for MPAs

A new manual analyzes the use of marine ecological scorecards and other tools to assess and report on the condition of MPAs, including trends in water quality, habitat, and living resources. The guide then presents a standardized marine ecological scorecard and condition report that has been tested at 10 MPAs along the Pacific coast of North America.

It was developed by the trinational Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America (involving Canada, Mexico, and the US). The guide is intended to help measure the progress of North American MPAs toward maintaining and improving ecosystem quality. A Guide to Ecological Scorecards for Marine Protected Areas in North America is at www.cec.org/Storage/98/9685_Marine_scorecard_en.pdf.


New European version of reserve science booklet

The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a collaboration of four US universities, has released the latest booklet in its series on the science of no-take marine reserves. The new booklet summarizes current peer-reviewed knowledge and focuses in particular on Europe, with several case studies from European MPAs.

PISCO published its first "Science of Marine Reserves" booklet in 2002, and updated it in 2007 with US and international versions. It also produced a Latin & Caribbean version in 2008. The series is available at www.piscoweb.org/publications/outreach-materials/science-of-marine-reserves.


Report: assessment of coral reef resilience in Bonaire MPA

A new report from IUCN examines coral reefs in Bonaire National Marine Park in the southern Caribbean, and assesses their resilience to climate change and other threats. The study describes the rapid assessment protocol that was designed for the project, and offers recommendations to help the site's habitats withstand various environmental stress factors. Coral Reef Resilience Assessment of the Bonaire National Marine Park, Netherlands Antilles is available at http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2011-008.pdf.


Reducing collisions between ships, whales in MPA

A new report by the US Office of National Marine Sanctuaries analyzes the threat of ship strikes on whales in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California, and suggests options for reducing their likelihood. The report is in response to the events of December 2007, when four blue whale carcasses were discovered near or within the sanctuary. Based on necropsies, the four were determined to have all died directly from ship collisions; one was pregnant with a near-term calf. Prior to that, the maximum number of blue whale documented fatalities in a single year in the region had been three.

The report suggests several options for reducing the threat of ship strikes, including narrowing or moving the shipping lane that cuts through the sanctuary, or slowing ship speed. It also recommends a series of research and education measures, and consideration of voluntary, mandatory, and incentive-based policies to reduce risk. Some 6500 large vessels transit past the Channel Islands every year, the majority of them at speeds greater than 14 knots, according to sanctuary management. The archipelago provides critical feeding grounds for the largest stock of blue whales in the world as well as other endangered cetacean species. The report is at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/conservation/pdfs/ship_strikes.pdf.


Survey seeks insights on mobile apps for MPAs

How can mobile devices and the software applications ("apps") that run on them be used for the benefit of MPAs and the marine community? A new survey aims to find out. A collaboration between the World Commission on Protected Areas - Marine and the University of Exeter (UK), the survey is part of a project to gauge the current state of mobile technology with regard to MPAs, promote existing solutions, and investigate new opportunities. Mobile apps, for example, could allow users to access information on MPAs or upload field data from sites they visit, according to the project leads. Apps could also focus on MPA-related education or entertainment. The survey is at www.surveymonkey.com/s/8PPJM9B.


Major supermarket chain voices support for MPAs

Safeway, the second-largest supermarket chain in North America, has expressed its support for marine protected areas in general and MPAs in California and Antarctica in particular. In an April 2011 statement on the company's website, Safeway announced:

"An important part of being a responsible seafood business is to not only limit the impacts of where we are fishing, but to set aside areas where we are not. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are important to ensure the biodiversity and productivity of our oceans. In California, Safeway is a proponent of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA), which balances the use and conservation of living marine resources through a statewide network of MPAs. Additionally, we are helping to preserve one of the last pristine marine areas on Earth: Antarctica's Ross Sea. Safeway has pledged to not buy or sell toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass) harvested from the Ross Sea and encourages Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) member countries to designate the entire Ross Sea as an MPA."

Safeway's statement is at www.safeway.com/ifl/grocery/CSR-Food-Sustainability. In response to the supermarket chain's support for the California MLPA initiative, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (www.joinrfa.org), a national political action organization, called on its members to boycott Safeway.

Elsewhere in retailing: on 11 May, British high-end department store Selfridges launched Project Ocean, a campaign that raises funds for designating no-take marine reserves: www.selfridges.com/projectocean.