MPA enforcement conference delayed to November 2012
The Global MPA Enforcement Conference, sponsored by WildAid and originally scheduled for February 2012, has been postponed to 25-29 November 2012. It will still be held in San Francisco, California, US. The website for the meeting is http://wildaid.org/mpaconference. The name of the meeting has also been changed: it is now called simply the 2012 MPA Conference.
New MPAs take effect in Southern California waters
A systematic network of new marine protected areas took effect on 1 January 2012 along the south coast of the US state of California, from Point Conception to the California/Mexico border. A year earlier, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations to create the network of 36 new MPAs in the region. The regulations were adopted as part of the state's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) initiative, a region-by-region process to reexamine and redesign the state's MPA system. The south coast region is one of five state-wide study regions in the MLPA planning process.
Combined with existing state MPAs in the region, the MPA network covers roughly 15% of state waters along the south coast. For more information on the MLPA process in general or the south coast MPAs in particular, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.
Uruguay designates MPA for green turtles
The Uruguayan government has designated a marine protected area around important foraging and nursery habitat for green turtles, as well as habitat for cetaceans and nesting seabirds. Designation of the new Cerro Verde Marine Protected Area is the culmination of more than a decade of planning by local NGO Karumbé (www.karumbe.org) in association with multiple partners including the Conservation Leadership Programme, a coalition of large international conservation NGOs (www.conservationleadershipprogramme.org). Turtle researchers believe that although some of the area's green turtles migrate to Brazil during winter months, other stay in Cerro Verde year-round, including hibernating in underwater caves when the colder winter water arrives.
Report: Legal scenarios for MPAs in areas beyond national jurisdiction
The report of a September 2011 seminar in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, analyzing legal scenarios for MPAs on the high seas is available at www.iddri.org/Publications/Collections/Analyses/A-legal-scenario-analysis-for-marine-protected-areas-in-areas-beyond-national-jurisdiction. The seminar convened experts on the law of the sea, ocean governance, and biodiversity protection. It was co-organized by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), IUCN, and the French Marine Protected Areas Agency.
Oceana proposes new MPAs for Baltic and northeast Atlantic
Oceana, an international NGO, has released publications calling for the designation of nine new MPAs in the Baltic Sea and 28 new MPAs in the northeast Atlantic. The Baltic report, based on the findings of a two-month research expedition conducted by Oceana in early 2011, identifies important marine habitats and ecosystems that warrant protection, totaling 3500 km2. The report is available at http://baltic.oceana.org/en/media-reports/reports/baltic-conservation-proposals-for-ecologically-important-areas-in-the-baltic-s.
The northeast Atlantic proposal - aimed at signatories to the OSPAR Convention, which oversees the region's marine resources - is based on findings from expeditions and a workshop of scientists convened by Oceana. The 28 proposed MPAs are in the Atlantic waters of Spain and Portugal as well as the Kattegat, a sea area bounded by Denmark and Sweden. The proposal is at http://eu.oceana.org/en/eu/media-reports/press-releases/oceana-proposes-28-atlantic-marine-habitats-for-protection-under-ospar.
New report on state of Australia's environment offers analysis of MPAs
An independent committee has delivered a report to the Australian government on the state of the Commonwealth's environment, including pressures on ecosystem health, trends, and effectiveness of management. The report addresses the subject of MPAs in the context of management effectiveness in the marine environment. In Australia, State of the Environment (SOE) reporting occurs at the national and state/territory level. At the national level, an SOE report has been produced every five years dating back to 1996. The 2011 report - both the full 1000-page version and a 50-page brief - is available at www.environment.gov.au/soe.
Marine mammal protected area conference presents summary, recommendations
Organizers of the Second International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA 2), held on Martinique in November 2011, have released the final executive summary of the meeting as well as recommendations that emerged from the conference's workshops. These materials are available from Erich Hoyt, conference chair, at erich.hoyt [at] mac.com and will be posted soon on the ICMMPA 2 website at http://second.icmmpa.org.
Among the recommendations, the conference workshop on scientific information and marine spatial planning called for:
- Developing advice on using marine mammal science to inform decision-making, and ensuring that relevant information about marine mammal important areas is incorporated in the Convention on Biological Diversity process of identifying ecologically or biologically significant areas;
- Forming a task force to develop guidelines for best practical ways to engage with the shipping industry, the International Maritime Organization, and other sectors;
- Developing a best practices guide for marine mammal spatial planning; and
- Developing an action plan to identify and address critical data gaps.
Relatedly, a new report from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society provides guidance on mapping spatial patterns in cetacean population density. Aimed at informing conservation planning and MPA network design, the report Mapping Large-scale Spatial Patterns in Cetacean Density is at www.cetaceanhabitat.org/pdf_bin/spatial_patterns_report.pdf.
Prisoners caught fishing in no-take reserve
In January 2012, six inmates on temporary release from prison in New Zealand were apprehended for fishing in the country's Te Angiangi Marine Reserve, a no-take area. The offenders were engaged in a rehabilitation program for inmates near the end of their sentence, and were accompanied by two program supervisors who were also arrested. The rehabilitation program focuses on learning positive skills for life after prison, such as diving for food.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) said its investigation found one of the supervisors had mistakenly directed the group into the reserve. The prisoners returned the seafood they had collected and will be involved in future DOC work at the site. The department is not pressing charges against the inmates, who could have faced up to three months in prison or NZ $10,000 (US $8060) in fines. A DOC press release is at www.doc.govt.nz/about-doc/news/media-releases/doc-accepts-marine-reserve-incident-genuine-mistake.
New forum on marine debris management
Marine Affairs Research and Education (MARE), publisher of MPA News and Marine Ecosystems and Management, has launched a new online forum on marine debris management, research, and prevention. The MarineDebris.Info forum offers a listserv for online discussion and a regular webinar series on marine debris topics of interest. The first webinar in the series was held 12 December 2011 on preparations for the arrival of Japanese tsunami debris at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. For more information, including a full recording of the webinar, go to www.marinedebris.info.