Report available on options for creating seamount MPAs

A new report provides advice on designating and managing MPAs to protect offshore seamounts and similar habitats, with a focus on the northeast Atlantic and the region’s relevant legal frameworks. Titled The Offshore MPA Toolbox, the report is part of an EU-funded project – OASIS (OceAnic Seamounts: An Integrated Study) – to assess and model two examples of seamount ecosystems in the northeast Atlantic. OASIS is coordinated by the University of Hamburg (Germany) with the participation of several European scientific institutes and WWF, an international NGO.

Building on a regional overview report released in 2003 (MPA News 5:6), the new report is aimed at planners and managers of offshore MPAs in the region. But it could also be useful to offshore MPA practitioners elsewhere, says co-author Stefanie Schmidt of WWF Germany. “The report compiles existing approaches to the selection, designation, and management of seamounts all over the world, and so is likely of use to politicians and managers in other regions, with other political frameworks than exist in the northeast Atlantic,” she says. “Obstacles to well-managed offshore MPAs are similar in many areas of the world.” Such obstacles include fishing pressure on biologically productive but vulnerable seamount communities, she says. So far there are two offshore seamount MPAs in the northeast Atlantic, both in Azorean waters.

OASIS will release a final project report in early 2006, says Schmidt, including an updated status report on seamount ecology and human exploitation in the northeast Atlantic. The ultimate goal, she says, is to link a network of seamount protected areas into a global representative network of MPAs by 2012, as envisaged by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 (MPA News 4:3).

The 56-page report is available online in PDF format at As of December 2004, the website will also include a web-based version of the report with internal and external cross-links.

For more information: Stefanie Fine Schmidt, WWF, Am Guethpol 11, 28757 Bremen, Germany. Tel: +49 421 65846 23; E-mail:

New website on social science tools for MPAs

Research on the social and economic effects of MPAs on surrounding communities can be invaluable to practitioners, helping them to understand and manage the human impacts of their sites. But not all managers are familiar with the various social science tools available, including surveys, non-market valuation, and social assessment. To help, a new website provides managers with an overview of social science techniques useful to MPAs, as well as case studies on how they have been applied to sites worldwide.

The Social Science for Marine Protected Areas website was developed by the (US) National MPA Center in conjunction with the Coastal Services Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hansje Gold-Krueck, who oversaw website development, says the goal was to help managers make more informed decisions and determine the role of social science in their MPA management. “Since we realize that managers don’t have a lot of time to research a new subject, we tried to keep the text as short and as simple as possible,” she says. “Links to additional sources and references are available for those managers who would like to know a little more about the subject.” She says the site will expand in the future with more case studies, tools, and a lessons-learned component.

Information on each social science tool was obtained through literature research and interviews with experts. A team of social scientists advised the process. The website is at

For more information: Hansje Gold-Krueck, I.M. Systems Group, NOAA Coastal Services Center, 2234 S. Hobson Avenue, Charleston, SC 29405-2413, USA. Tel: +1 843 740 1337; E-mail:

Seychelles MPA offers warden-exchange program

The Cousin Island Special Reserve, located in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, is now offering a warden-exchange program. Visiting wardens or rangers may stay up to three months in the reserve, which includes terrestrial and marine habitats. Nature Seychelles, an NGO that manages the reserve, will provide a living allowance, local transport, housing, work permits, and on-the-job training if necessary to approved applicants. The partner institutions of approved applicants must provide an international air ticket and insurance, if relevant.

The marine portion of the no-take Cousin Island Special Reserve is 1.5 km2. The terrestrial portion includes one of the most important breeding sites for hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean. The reserve won the Conde Nast Traveler Ecotourism Award for 2004 in the category of Destination.

For more information: Nirmal Jivan Shah, Chief Executive, Nature Seychelles, The Centre for Environment and Education, P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles. E-mail:; Web:

Proceedings available from SAMPAA 2003 conference

The proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Science and Management of Protected Areas (SAMPAA V) – held in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in May 2003 – are available on the web for free at Several of the papers pertain specifically to MPAs while others offer general guidance for protected areas. The theme of the conference was “Making Ecosystem-Based Management Work: Connecting Managers and Researchers”. A copy of the papers on CD-ROM will soon also be available via the SAMPAA website (

For more information: Tom Herman, SAMPAA, Centre for Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada. E-mail: