More IMPAC1 coverage to come

This edition of MPA News contains several topics that were presented or discussed at the First International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC1), held in Geelong, Australia, in October 2005. We will continue to report on outcomes from IMPAC1 ( in future editions.

Funding available for mooring buoy programs in Gulf of Mexico, Wider Caribbean

Projects to install and maintain mooring buoys for conservation of coral reef ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and Wider Caribbean Region are eligible for grants through the Anchors Away! program, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through the Coral Reef Conservation Fund. Applications will be accepted from US or international non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies (except U.S. federal agencies). US federal agencies are encouraged to work collaboratively with non-federal partners. Pre-proposals are due by 31 January 2006. More information is available online at

New Zealand approves three marine reserves

The New Zealand government has approved three new no-take marine reserves, which, when formally gazetted, will bring the total number of marine reserves in the nation to 31. All together, the reserve system will cover roughly 7.5% of New Zealand’s territorial sea. The new reserves have been under discussion for 10 years or more. “It is terrific to see them finally reach fruition,” said Conservation Minister Chris Carter in a press statement.

The 12.9-km2 Volkner Rocks (Te Paepae Aotea) Marine Reserve in the Bay of Plenty features particularly clear waters, a combination of subtropical and warm temperate fishes and invertebrates, and emergent rock stacks that are a sacred site for nearby tribes. The 17.59-km2 Parininihi Marine Reserve contains distinctive sponge gardens and is the southern limit for Maui’s dolphin, a species endemic to the northwest coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The 2.31-km2 Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve comprises two sites with different habitats – a mangrove forest and a rocky reef – and was proposed by a local secondary school, whose students studied the harbor as part of their curriculum from 1990-2002. “It is a great example of ‘bottom-up’ action by young people who wanted to safeguard their local environment,” says Kathy Walls, senior technical support officer for marine protected areas with the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Four more marine reserve applications await decisions from ministers under New Zealand’s current Marine Reserves Act. Once decisions are made on those, a new system for locating MPAs – based on regional planning and consultation prior to proposals proceeding to the ministerial level – will be introduced. The press statement from government ministers is available at

AU$50 million paid so far to those impacted by Great Barrier Reef re-zoning

The Australian Government reports it has paid roughly AU$50 million (US$38 million) so far as part of a “structural adjustment package” to assist fishermen and fishery-related businesses that have been impacted by re-zoning of the 344,000-km2 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. More than 500 individuals and businesses have received assistance through the program. The re-zoning, which took effect 1 July 2004, expanded no-take zones from 4.7% to over 33% of the entire marine park (“Australian Parliament Passes Re-Zoning Bill…”, MPA News 5:10). The deadline for applications for assistance was recently extended from 31 December 2005 to 30 April 2006. The structural adjustment package is the first major application of the Australian government’s policy statement on Marine Protected Areas and Displaced Fishing, released January 2004 ( More information on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package is available at

Report: Successes, challenges in managing coral reef MPAs

A report published by the UN Environment Programme features 13 case studies of coastal coral-reef management initiatives worldwide, with lessons learned from each. Several of the cases described in the 100-page People and Reefs: Successes and Challenges in the Management of Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas were presented at the International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium 2 (ITMEMS2), held in Manila, Philippines, in March 2003. The report is available in PDF format at

Handbook available on reef fish spawning aggregations

The Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations (SCRFA), an NGO, has released a handbook to educate managers and stakeholders on the phenomenon of reef-fish spawning aggregations and the need for their conservation. The handbook accompanies an earlier-released methods manual detailing how research and conservation of spawning aggregations can be carried out. Both publications are available in PDF format at


The May 2005 edition of MPA News misidentified the position of Frank Prokop at Recfishwest, a recreational fishing organization in Western Australia (“Sportfishing, MPAs, and the Debate Over Management”, MPA News 6:10). He is executive director of the organization.

BOX: Tips on public consultation: Jason Simms, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Jason Simms of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada, oversaw a seven-year process to plan the Gilbert Bay Marine Protected Area, designated in October 2005 as one of three new federal MPAs in Eastern Canada (MPA News 7:5). With DFO as the lead federal agency on the project, Simms was required to consult with federal and provincial agencies, aboriginal stakeholders, environmental NGOs, and other groups, including those represented on a multi-stakeholder steering committee for the MPA. Ultimately, there was near-total overlap between the steering committee’s final recommendations and the regulations for the MPA, which allows limited fishing depending on zone. Community support for the Gilbert Bay MPA ( is high.

MPA News: How can resource managers decide the right amount of public consultation to provide as part of MPA planning? In other words, how much consultation is too much or too little?

Jason Simms: Ultimately, the timing and amount of consultation will depend on good advice, planning, and your gut feeling as a MPA manager. It is important not to consult on management measures too early, as you may have to repeat consultations if major changes occur – although, obviously, the process of consultation may result in adjusting some management measures. During our consultation sessions we remained focused on the regulations and avoided spending a lot of time discussing non-regulatory activities: i.e., public awareness, science, etc. The support of our multi-stakeholder steering committee helped address most areas of public concern.

We also took a page from the re-zoning process for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia. That is, we avoided holding evening public meetings with long presentations attempting to address all possible questions related to the MPA. Instead, we held community information sessions in which DFO representatives and steering committee members were available in the communities for 3-4 hours, and invited the public to come and discuss their concerns or questions. Instead of having to sit through a 30-minute presentation, people could drop by and have their questions addressed in 5 minutes. This approach helped to diffuse the negative “grandstanding” that often occurs at public meetings and presented a less intimidating environment for discussion.

For more information

Jason Simms, MPA Program, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s NF A1C 5X1, Canada. Tel: +1 709 772 8014; E-mail: