Handbook available on creating MPA boundaries

A new handbook provides best practices for the establishment of MPA boundaries. Offering guidance for conceptualizing and writing boundary descriptions, the 66-page Marine Managed Areas: Best Practices for Boundary Making is intended to help reduce boundary misunderstandings and assist the transition from traditional mapping methods to modern, digital techniques based on geographic information systems (GIS). Authored by the (US) Federal Geographic Data Committee’s Marine Boundary Working Group and sponsored by the National Marine Protected Areas Center, the book was written with US resource managers in mind, but offers enough general guidance to be useful to practitioners elsewhere. (An essay on boundary-making by one of the handbook’s authors, David Stein, appeared in the February 2003 edition of MPA News [MPA News 4:7].) The free handbook is available at http://www.csc.noaa.gov/products/mb_handbook.

Two publications provide views on protecting underwater cultural heritage

A new book provides sixteen national perspectives on the protection of shipwrecks and other underwater cultural heritage, reflecting passage in 2001 of a UNESCO Convention on this subject (MPA News 3:3 and 3:5) and how the framework has affected legal protection over a range of jurisdictions worldwide. The Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2006), edited by Sarah Dromgoole of the University of Leicester (UK), is the second edition of a volume first published in 1999. In this second edition, half of the national essays are entirely new; most of the rest have been substantially rewritten. The new 420-page book retails for US $176 and is available from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has released a free report Underwater Cultural Heritage at Risk: Managing Natural and Human Impacts that features more than 30 articles on the subject, including multiple case studies, reflections on the 2001 UNESCO Convention, and discussions of the role of MPAs in protection. The report’s introduction and foreword each appear in three languages (English, French, Spanish); the remainder of the content is in English only. The report is available at http://www.international.icomos.org/risk/2006/fulldocan.pdf.

Report: MPAs are “indispensable” for addressing climate change in oceans

In an era of global climate change, marine protected areas provide an “indispensable” means of bolstering the resilience of ocean ecosystems and preserving marine biodiversity, according to a new report by the German Advisory Council on Climate Change. The report The Future Oceans – Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour analyzes the impacts of climate change on coastal and ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and human communities, and offers several detailed policy recommendations, including greater application of MPAs and other ecosystem-based management tools. The report reiterates the target set at the World Parks Congress in 2003 that 20-30% of all marine habitats should receive strict protection in MPAs (MPA News 5:4). The publication is available online at http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_sn2006_en.pdf.

US releases draft framework for national MPA system; federal MPA advisory committee seeks applicants

In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior have jointly released a draft framework for the development of a national system of MPAs. The draft framework is open for public comment through 14 February 2007. It represents the culmination of several years’ work to examine the nation’s existing place-based marine conservation efforts, and describes a national system of MPAs built in partnership with federal, state, tribal, and local governments as well as other stakeholders. “The draft framework offers a proposal for working together at regional and national levels to support the effective use of marine protected areas and achieve common goals for conserving the nation’s vital marine resources,” said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in a joint letter to state governors and tribal leaders. The July 2005 edition of MPA News featured an article on the process of developing the draft framework (“Developing a National System of MPAs…”, MPA News 7:1).

The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, which provided extensive input on crafting the draft framework, is seeking new members to fill approximately 15 vacancies for Fall 2007. Nominations for natural and social scientists; state and territorial resource managers; cultural resource experts; and representatives of ocean industry, commercial and recreational fishing, and environmental organizations are due by 1 November 2006.

More information on the draft framework and the Advisory Committee vacancies is available at http://www.mpa.gov.

WWF-Spain proposes national representative system of MPAs

WWF-Spain, an NGO, has proposed creation of a representative network of MPAs for Spain that would encompass 20 sites selected by the organization on the basis of ecological, socioeconomic, and other criteria. The proposed network would contain inshore sites within Spain’s 12-nm territorial sea and offshore areas in its 200-nm Exclusive Economic Zone. Upon release of the proposal, Spanish Environment Minister Cristina Narbona praised it as a way to achieve real protection of the nation’s marine area. In the coming months, Spain is expected to designate its first offshore MPA, El Cachucho Bank, under the OSPAR Convention. This site is one of the 20 proposed by WWF-Spain, which also include submarine canyons, seagrass meadows, and cold-water coral reefs, among other habitats. Spain already has 38 inshore MPAs under various designations. The report Conservando nuestros paraísos marinos is available in Spanish at http://www.wwf.es/red_amp_espana.php.

For more information: Pilar Marcos (MPA officer), WWF-Spain, Gran Via de San Francisco 8, 28005-Madrid, Spain. E-mail: pmarcos@wwf.es

MPA Tip: Site selection

MPA News presents a new feature, “MPA Tip”, with advice on MPA planning and management gathered from various publications on protected areas. The purpose is two-fold: to provide useful guidance to practitioners, and to serve as a reminder of valuable literature from past years.

The following tip on MPA site selection is from Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas (IUCN, 1999), edited by Graeme Kelleher and available online at http://app.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/PAG-003.pdf.

Tip: In selecting sites, the conservation needs should be balanced with the needs of local people, who may depend on the sea for their livelihoods.

It is better to create and manage successfully an MPA that may not be ideal in ecological terms, but which achieves the purposes for which it is established, than to labor vainly to create the theoretically “ideal” MPA. Where there is a choice of ecologically suitable areas, as there often is in the sea, the dominant criteria for selection of MPA locations, boundaries, and management systems should be socioeconomic. Where there is no choice, ecological criteria should come first.

In general, not enough weight has been given to socioeconomic criteria in the selection of MPAs, yet these factors will probably determine whether the MPA flourishes or fails. Because community support is absolutely vital to the success of any MPA, MPAs that contribute to economic activity will be far easier to create and manage than those that do not.