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

At the same meeting, the government of the French territory of New Caledonia reiterated its intent to designate a large multi-use MPA in its EEZ. The western Pacific territory first announced this intent in 2012 (“Cook Islands and New Caledonia Declare Intent to Designate Large Multi-Use MPAs“, MPA News 14:2). Its EEZ is 1.4-million km2 in area.

Reflections on IMPAC3 from participants

MPA News asked participants in the Third International MPA Congress (IMPAC3) to provide their thoughts on the event and how it reflected the current state of MPA science and management. Here are some responses:

Leah Karrer, Senior Environmental Specialist; The Global Environment Facility

IMPAC3 demonstrated that the marine conservation community has advanced in our discussions such that we are no longer only discussing the what and where of MPAs – we are also examining how we do business. Sustainable financing mechanisms; scaling up to networks and integrated coastal management; spatial planning tools; and private sector engagement were a few of the key topics highlighted at the conference.

Kalli De Meyer, Executive Director; Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

For me there were three stand-out workshop topics:

  • The increasing attention being paid to economic valuation of protected areas. Some of it was simply baffling, but some is clearly going to pave the way for a different way of viewing protected areas. Gaining insight into the jargon of ecosystem services and costs was very useful.
  • The overriding need for effective communication to the public. It’s clear that despite our best efforts we are still doing a mediocre job of persuading the public of the need to protect our oceans. We need to learn to communicate about the importance of marine systems at multiple levels to different audiences with messages that resonate with them. This means rethinking conservation messaging in terms of wellbeing, health benefits, cultural and spiritual values – things we still do not do particularly well.
  • The workshops tackling the MPA sustainable financing conundrum were a clear attention-grabber. To judge by the high attendance, funding would appear to be one of the critical issues facing most protected areas. However, while there were examples of great fundraising (including innovative work by, which is dipping its toes in the world of crowdsourced funding to raise small project funds), the focus was still on tried and tested strategies.

[Editor’s note: for Kalli’s unabridged post-congress remarks on IMPAC3, go to]

Jeff Ardron, Senior Fellow; Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Potsdam, Germany)

In 2005, from far across the seas, we were called together to Australia and the “MPA tribe” was born. Four years later, combined with the International Marine Conservation Congress, IMPAC2 linked together the conservation biology community with the MPA community, and our tribe progressed toward “legitimacy” in the conservation world. However, it was not until IMPAC3 that MPAs were suddenly mainstream. A huge attendance, combined with live-streamed plenaries and a high-level ministerial segment, all pointed to ever-increasing recognition of the challenges facing the oceans and the potential roles for MPAs.

Ironically, the solutions shifted away from us and into the political realm. Indeed, most of us were not invited to the political session on Corsica that followed IMPAC3. While I recognize this as perhaps necessary progress in the course of effecting change, there were times at IMPAC3 when I missed the simpler days of IMPAC1, when we enthusiastically shared knowledge and ideas over Aussie beers in the belief that a small group of thoughtful, committed non-politicians could change the marine world.

Lynne Zeitlin Hale, Managing Director, Global Marine Initiative; The Nature Conservancy

My main takeaways from IMPAC3:

  • The link between conservation and benefits to people and economies has taken center stage. More attention needs be paid to the full range and spatial distribution of the ocean’s ecosystem services.
  • The 10% target [for global MPA coverage under the Convention on Biological Diversity] is good, but not good enough. MPAs need be embedded in integrated, more comprehensive management schemes. Islands of protection cannot exist within oceans of degradation.
  • We need all types of MPAs. There is not a single solution to protecting the ocean. We need multiple types of MPAs – from MPAs designed and managed to deliver specific ecosystems services to growing coastal populations, to very large, remote MPAs that act as baselines.
  • We are becoming a more cohesive community. While many different approaches in MPA planning and management were evident, there was a strong sense of community. This is recognition that we are much more effective when we support the diversity of approaches our community embodies.

COMING UP: Novel financing techniques and more from IMPAC3

IMPAC3 featured hundreds of presentations and other knowledge-sharing opportunities on MPA planning, management, and research. Our next issue will examine how some MPAs are using innovative techniques to generate revenue.