The Third International Marine Protected Areas Congress, or IMPAC3, will be held this 21-27 October in Marseille and Corsica, France. As the largest MPA-focused meeting in the world, IMPAC3 will feature more than 700 accepted abstracts (

It will also mark the debut of four new global task forces by the World Commission on Protected Areas – Marine, a co-organizer of IMPAC3 with the French MPA Agency. These task forces will cover marine mammal protected areas, community-based and local marine area management, very large MPAs, and outreach and communication practices on MPAs.

Currently there is just one marine task force under the WCPA – the High Seas Task Force. “IMPAC3 represents the start of a new era in our work,” says Dan Laffoley, Chair of WCPA – Marine. “The new task forces will complement the high seas work, provide more engagement points for WCPA and IUCN members, and better align our community’s capacity behind the Convention on Biological Diversity programme of work and the Aichi targets (including that 10% of global marine areas are effectively conserved by 2020). The four-fold increase in task forces represents a significant scale-up in our activities and reflects the increase in pace we need in MPA designation.”

More on the new task forces is below.

Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force

To be run jointly by WCPA – Marine and the IUCN Species Survival Commission, this task force will produce two events at IMPAC3:

  1. A full-day workshop on the selection of criteria for the identification of Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs). Modeled on Birdlife International’s Important Bird Areas concept, IMMAs are discrete portions of habitat, important to marine mammal species, which have potential to be delineated and managed for conservation. They are not MPAs in themselves, but rather areas that have been pre-selected for space-based conservation.
  2. A side event for the official presentation of the task force, explaining its mission, activities, products, and leadership, including co-chairs Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara and Erich Hoyt.

Community-Based and Local Marine Area Management Task Force

Designed to enhance knowledge-sharing among locally managed marine areas worldwide, this task force will draw lessons from networks of such sites already in place – mainly in Asia, the Pacific region, and the Western Indian Ocean. The Coral Triangle Center is helping to develop this task force with other partners, and anticipates launching specific outputs in 2014 at the World Parks Congress in Sydney.

Very Large MPAs Task Force

Formed from a partnership between WCPA – Marine and the Big Ocean network of large MPAs (, this task force will seek peer review and comments from participants at IMPAC3 on a consultative draft of the Guidelines for Design and Management of Large-Scale MPAs, under production by the task force. The task force will also use two workshop sessions to grow its membership, identify interested parties, and open a dialogue about participation.

Outreach and Communication Good Practices around MPAs Task Force

A partnership of WCPA – Marine and the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, this task force is under development.

For more information: Dan Laffoley, WCPA – Marine. Email:

BOX: How IMPAC3 will reflect the evolution of the MPA field: An interview with Dan Laffoley

In an interview with MPA News, Dan Laffoley of the World Commission on Protected Areas – Marine explains how the global MPA field has changed since the first IMPAC meeting in 2005, and how IMPAC3 will reflect today’s MPA world. He also provides insights on how the new WCPA – Marine task forces will align with existing institutions and models of international marine conservation. For the interview, go to

BOX: Following IMPAC3 online

For those who cannot make it to Marseille, you will be able to follow some IMPAC3 activities live via the soon-to-be-launched Ocean+ WebTV, available on the congress website: