International summit of MPA agencies held in February
In February 2012, senior officials from MPA agencies of 16 nations gathered in San Francisco, California (US), to discuss how to use their combined influence and efforts to increase the value and success of MPAs worldwide. The participating agencies committed to becoming a permanent informal group, and to finding ways to share their experience and lessons learned.
Hosted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the MPA Agency Summit was by invitation only. NOAA invited 23 nations to send an MPA agency representative, and 16 were able to attend: Australia, Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Palau, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the US. Several NGO observers were also invited to attend.
The national invitations were based on a variety of factors including level of MPA activity, size of EEZ, NOAA's relationship and history with particular countries, and a desire for a diverse representation of geography and cultures. The participating countries included eight of the thirteen largest EEZs in the world. In the future, countries may be added as the group decides are necessary and desirable. A second summit is anticipated to be held in France in 2013 in conjunction with the 3rd International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC3).
For more information: Elizabeth Moore (chief of staff, international activities), NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, US. E-mail: Elizabeth.Moore [at] noaa.gov
New global partnership to address ocean problems, raise funds
In February, the World Bank announced the formation of a coalition of governments, NGOs, private companies, and other institutions to address multiple problems facing the world ocean - from overfishing, to pollution, to habitat loss, and more. Although some details on its agenda remain to be defined, the Global Partnership for Oceans has already called for the increased designation of MPAs and for improved governance systems around fishing, including rights-based management.
In announcing the partnership at the World Oceans Summit in Singapore, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said he wanted to see global MPA coverage expand to 5% of the oceans, and that he would be "thrilled" with 10%. The partnership aims to raise US $1.5 billion for ocean programs in coming years from an array of funders, including businesses and NGOs. The project website is www.globalpartnershipforoceans.org.
Coalition calls for 3.6 million-km2 marine reserve in Ross Sea
In February 2012 a coalition of 16 global conservation groups, the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), called for designation of a 3.6 million-km2 no-take marine reserve in the Ross Sea of Antarctica. Under their plan, the reserve would serve as the keystone for a forthcoming network of MPAs and no-take marine reserves across the Southern Ocean.
The AOA proposal aims to influence the intergovernmental body responsible for managing Antarctica's marine living resources, which is engaged in a year-long process to plan a network of MPAs in the region ("CCAMLR agrees on framework for developing MPAs in Antarctica", MPA News 13:3). The body has called on its member states to submit detailed proposals. Currently there is a toothfish longline fishery active in the Ross Sea.
AOA includes Greenpeace, WWF, and other groups, and receives support from Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson as well as other funders (www.antarcticocean.org). At present the largest no-take marine reserve in the world is the UK's 544,000-km2 Chagos Marine Protected Area in the Indian Ocean.
Scientists support giant no-take marine reserve for Australia's Coral Sea
A consensus statement signed by more than 300 scientists from around the world has called on the Australian Government to designate a no-take marine reserve across the country's Coral Sea, covering nearly 1 million km2. The statement, released in February, was in response to a draft management plan for the area that the Government proposed last November. The Government's draft plan called for zoning half of the area as no-take while allowing various levels of extractive activity in the remainder (MPA News 13:4).
The statement identified six issues of concern with regard to the draft plan, including that allowing catch-and-release fishing in the Coral Sea was inadvisable due to high rates of associated fish mortality. The period for public comment on the draft plan ended on 24 February. Following any revisions to the plan, there will be a formal statutory declaration process with another round of public consultation. The scientists' statement is at www.coralcoe.org.au/news_stories/coralsea2.html.
FAO publishes technical guidelines on MPAs as fisheries tools
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published technical guidelines on the use of MPAs - particularly no-take zones - in the context of fisheries. The 198-page publication is divided into two sections. The first provides background on fisheries management, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and MPAs as a tool for fisheries management. The second section considers the planning and implementation of MPAs. The guidelines were drafted based on findings from an FAO expert workshop in 2006 as well as subsequent reviews.
The publication Guidelines on Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries is available at www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2090e/i2090e.pdf.
Mediterranean MPA newsletter published
MedMPAnet - a project led by UNEP to develop a representative network of marine and coastal protected areas in the Mediterranean - has published its first newsletter. Featuring articles on various MedMPAnet activities, the newsletter is available at http://medmpanet.rac-spa.org.
Abstracts available from MPA presentations at marine biodiversity conference
The World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, held in September 2011 in Scotland, featured a session on MPAs. Abstracts of the 27 presentations given at the session are now available at http://bit.ly/WCMBMPA. The presentations addressed issues of governance, stakeholder engagement, legislation/policy, MPA design, and MPAs as a recovery mechanism for fisheries and biodiversity.