Correction: Komandorsky Zapovednik, Russia’s largest MPA, was designated in 1993, not 1992 as described in the August 2004 issue of MPA News. Its new director, who was mentioned in the issue but not named, is Nikolay Pavlov.

Report provides lessons learned on involving stakeholders

Several broadly applicable lessons on stakeholder involvement in MPA planning can be learned from efforts to designate MPAs in the US in the past decade, according to a new report released by the National MPA Center (US). The report provides six case studies – representing diverse geographic areas and an array of social, political, and ecological complexity – and analyzes them for patterns in what made each designation process effective or ineffective. Those patterns serve as the basis for a dozen general recommendations provided by the report authors.

Included among the recommendations are the following, excerpted by MPA News:

  • On politics: Planners and managers should treat politics as the natural expression of human and interest group dynamics that reflect stakeholders’ genuine interests and perceptions. They are part of the policy process and need to be recognized, accommodated, and planned for. Such interest group dynamics often lead to conflict, which should be seen as a natural part of such complex processes.
  • On the role of scientists: Process managers need to remember that scientists are people, with motivations and biases like other stakeholders. Scientists should not work separately from other stakeholders, even on seemingly non-controversial issues. Scientists should be selected to ensure that their skills match the areas of expertise defined by the objectives of the process, and their role made clear to stakeholders.
  • On involvement of key staff: Upper level managers and agency decisionmakers must ensure that key program staff are formally assigned to manage the process from start to finish, and that they have the experience, stature, and core skills needed to understand and influence its evolution, and to successfully flag and negotiate emerging issues with the program leadership.

In addition to providing broad lessons common to all six designation efforts, the report distills additional insights from each of the individual cases. It is available online in PDF format at

Two new reports available on coral monitoring

Managers of coral reef MPAs may benefit from two new reports that provide methods for monitoring reef health. The first, Methods for Ecological Monitoring of Coral Reefs, published by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), provides a comprehensive guide to methods for monitoring all aspects of coral reef ecology, arranged according to subject of study (benthic communities, fishes, physical parameters, etc.). The report also offers advice on establishing a monitoring program and lists several regional programs already in existence, with contact information. It is available online in PDF format at

The second report, A Global Protocol for Assessment and Monitoring of Coral Bleaching, provides a set of procedures for studying key aspects of coral bleaching events. Designed for use by people with differing levels of experience and resources, the report aims to help researchers and managers document bleaching events, determine factors that increase susceptibility to bleaching, and understand how management may help reefs be more resilient. By standardizing the monitoring of bleaching events, say the authors, there will be better documentation of global and smaller-scale patterns, which can aid management. The report was published by Worldfish Center and WWF Indonesia. It is available online in PDF format on the ReefBase website at (To access the report, you will need to subscribe to ReefBase, which is free; directions are on the website.)

Rating system available for MPA management in Philippines

A system designed to rate the management effectiveness of individual MPAs in the Philippines is now available as part of a project to improve the nation’s MPA governance. The MPA Report Guide and Rating System, released in June 2004, allows MPA managers to assess the status of management and the local ecosystem through a relatively simple survey. Completed ratings are then entered to a nationwide database, which will be used to compare ratings among sites and develop lessons learned for improving management.

“The goal is for all legally declared MPAs in the Philippines to be part of this rating system,” says Alan White of the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF), the Philippine NGO that oversees the project. (The project is supported by the Philippine government together with more than 20 institutional partners. Original funding came from the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation.) White says that although the system was developed for the Philippines, its basic structure could be adapted as a model for similar systems elsewhere.

The rating system covers five phases of implementation – from initiation through institutionalization. It awards points for criteria or activities that have been addressed by management. Points are earned, for example, for having conducted a baseline ecosystem assessment prior to designation, or for reviewing and updating a management plan.

CCEF has released two versions of the rating system, one for municipal or city-managed MPAs and one for nationally declared sites. The criteria vary between the two systems due to differences in designation, management bodies, and other factors. Explaining the need for separate systems, White says, “When the questions are too generic, they are more difficult for local managers to understand.” The rating system is available online at Click “Projects”, then “The Marine Protected Area Project”.

For more information: Alan White or Anna Menenses, CCEF, Room 302, PDI Condominium, Archbishop Reyes Ave., Banilad, Cebu City 6000 Philippines. Tel: +63 32 233 6947; E-mail: or

Catholic bishops declare Great Barrier Reef sacred

The Great Barrier Reef is sacred and any willful harm done to it constitutes a diminishment of God, according to a statement released in August by the seven Catholic bishops of the Australian state of Queensland. The statement highlights the unique nature of the reef and the threats it faces, as well as some of the work being done to preserve it. In particular, the bishops commend recently concluded efforts to re-zone the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with expanded no-take zones (MPA News 5:10).

“Care for the environment and a keener ecological awareness have become key moral issues for the Christian conscience,” write the bishops. Their statement, titled “Let the Many Coastlands Be Glad!”, says that greenhouse gas emissions, overfishing, some reef-based tourism, poorly planned development, and coastal runoff all compromise the health of the reef. To obtain the 26-page statement, known as a pastoral letter, e-mail Col Brown, CEO of Catholic Earthcare Australia, at

California resumes MPA planning process

The state of California (US) is re-starting a program to create a system of MPAs throughout its waters. Temporarily halted by officials in January 2004 due to a shortfall in state funds and staff (MPA News 5:7), the program will be supported by US$2 million provided by private donors, as well as $500,000 in state funds. The donors include the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Homeland Foundation. The new MPAs will be off-limits to commercial fishing, although some could allow recreational fishing, according to state officials. An overview of the planning process is available online at

MPA Figures

Number of MPAs worldwide that include areas of:

  • Coral reef 660
  • Seagrass 354
  • Estuary 242
  • Mangrove 237
  • Seamount 84

Source: Sea Around Us project, a partnership between the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the Pew Charitable Trusts. These data were gathered from analyses of several global databases. Sea Around Us is undertaking a global assessment of marine protected areas, in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas-Marine (IUCN-WCPA). The project seeks to develop a robust global MPA baseline by improving current estimates of marine area and habitat coverage of MPAs as indicated by the World Database of Protected Areas, maintained by UNEP-WCMC.

For more information: Louisa Wood, Fisheries Centre, 2259 Lower Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Tel: +1 604 822 1636; E-mail: