A study of 87 marine protected areas worldwide has found that conservation success – as indicated by fish biomass – improves exponentially when an MPA has five key features. Those recurring characteristics are:
- No fishing allowed;
- More than 10 years old;
- Relatively large in area (larger than 100 km2); and
- Isolated from fished areas by habitat boundaries, such as deep water or sand.
Several presentations at IMPAC3 addressed a relatively new concept in the ocean management realm: marine biodiversity offsets. A biodiversity offset is a way to demonstrate that an infrastructure project is implemented in a manner that results in "no net loss" of biodiversity. If the installation of a proposed offshore oil drilling platform, for example, is anticipated to have certain negative impacts on benthic habitat, an offset could involve protecting similar habitat elsewhere, or fostering new habitat, to balance the habitat loss at the platform site. (If a project has already been implemented, an offset could involve restoring any habitat that has been degraded in the process.)
Such offsets, sometimes referred to as compensation, have existed in land management for a while. But the idea has only become more common in ocean management as industries such as petroleum exploration, renewable energy, and seabed mining establish a greater marine presence.
French Polynesia announces process to designate a 700,000-km2 MPA; New Caledonia reiterates intent for large MPA
At the MPA-focused ministerial meeting following IMPAC3, the government of French Polynesia announced that a process is underway to designate nearly 700,000 km2 of the waters around its Marquesas Islands as a protected area. The MPA is likely to be multi-use, although details on its management or zoning have not yet been decided. "This protected and managed marine area will be based on a desire to preserve a unique heritage, but also on sustainable development for the benefit of people," said the country's minister of marine resources, Tearii Alpha. The French Polynesia announcement (in French) is at http://web.presidence.pf/index.php/mrm-filtre/630-la-polynesie-dans-le-concert-mondial-pour-la-preservation-des-aires-marines.
In our November-December 2013 issue, MPA News profiled two programs that aim to recognize (or certify) good management of MPAs worldwide, site-by-site – the IUCN Green List of Well-Managed Protected Areas, and the Global Ocean Refuge System developed by the Marine Conservation Institute.
While those programs remain in development, a regional recognition system for well-managed MPAs is already underway in Southeast Asia and Melanesia. Launched in August 2013, the Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System Framework and Action Plan (CTMPAS) aims to foster the development of a network of effectively managed MPAs across the region's six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste). The recognition system considers a range of factors from biodiversity criteria, to governance, to the fulfillment of fisheries and climate adaptation needs, to connectivity linkages within the region, and more.