Australia formally designates MPA network for Southeast region

On 5 July, Australia formally designated a network of 13 new MPAs in its Southeast marine region, in waters off southern New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and eastern South Australia. The network covers 226,000 km2 and will come into effect on 3 September 2007.

In June 2006, MPA News reported stakeholder views on the Government’s final plan for the Southeast MPA network (MPA News 7:11). The Southeast region is Australia’s first to undergo an MPA network planning process as part of a nationwide effort to designate a representative system of MPAs by 2012. The new Southeast MPAs comprise several different levels of protection, from no-take zones, to recreational use zones, to special purpose zones for oil and gas activities.

Some fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, are banned throughout the network. However, the Government says the MPAs will have a 90% lower adverse impact on the fishing industry compared to an earlier proposed network plan, released in December 2005. Fishing industry associations responded favorably in general to the final plan and recent designation.

Conservationists and some scientists have criticized the new network for protecting relatively little of the continental shelf in no-take zones – less than 1%. Graham Edgar, a senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania who also works for Conservation International (an NGO), led a group of marine scientists who critiqued the final plan last year. “The planning process received no significant input from the scientific community, and generated badly flawed outcomes,” he says. “It is depressing that following the zoning of 33% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as no-take conservation zones [MPA News 5:10], the Australian Government announces this network that includes 0.4% of the continental shelf as no-take conservation zones.”

Information on the network and its planning process is available at

For more information

Leanne Wilks, Department of the Environment and Heritage, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. E-mail:

Graham Edgar, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-49, Hobart, Tas 7001, Australia. Tel: +61 3 6227 7238; E-mail:

Mexico designates MPA in Gulf of California

The government of Mexico has designated a 3880-km2 MPA along the eastern coast of the Baja California peninsula. The Bahía de los Angeles y Canales de Ballenas y Salsipuedes Biosphere Reserve includes the peninsular and island coastlines, the waters surrounding the Bahía de los Angeles and Angel de la Guarda archipelagos, and the channels separating the archipelagos from the peninsula.

“This biosphere reserve is designed as a laboratory for fisheries management,” says Gustavo Danemann of Pronatura Noroeste AC, a Mexican NGO that led the public consultation process to plan the reserve. “As a result of fisheries research conducted in the area since 1998, this is the first Mexican MPA to have a complete baseline on the status of its fisheries and natural resources from the moment of its designation.” The baseline information will support the design of management plans for individual fisheries, and help evaluate plan performance, says Danemann.

Only a small percentage of the reserve consists of no-take “core zones” – just 0.05% of the total area. However, the reserve is adjacent to the San Lorenzo Archipelago National Park, an MPA that shares the same ecosystem and includes an 88-km2 no-take area. “That no-take area will serve as a control site for fisheries management at Bahía de los Angeles,” says Danemann. Designation of the new MPA expands a continuous network of five terrestrial and marine protected areas, covering 55,600 km2 and extending from the Pacific Ocean across the central portion of the Baja California Peninsula to the Gulf of California.

For more information

Gustavo D. Danemann, Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fishing Program, Pronatura Noroeste AC, Calle Décima No. 60, Zona Centro, Ensenada, Baja California, 22800 Mexico. E-mail:

Guidebook: Choosing and installing the right moorings for your MPA

A new publication offers guidance for MPA managers on how to choose the right moorings and install them in the most ecologically sustainable manner. Co-published by the Universite de Nice-Sophia Antipolis and Parc National de Port-Cros in Nice (France), the report describes which mooring types are appropriate for various ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass beds, sandy bottoms, etc.) and lists suppliers of each type. Installation techniques are described in detail. “This guide will help in the choice of the most adapted ecological solution, depending on the environment in question,” states the report. The 70-page Management Guide for Marine Protected Areas: Permanent Ecological Moorings is available in PDF format at

Report describes economic aspects of MPAs

A new report documents and explains the economic aspects of MPAs: from methods for estimating MPA benefits, to the financial importance of managing sustainable sites, to “market failures” of MPAs, and more. “This book was devoted to introduce the reader to the concept of economics, how it is implemented in natural resources management, and especially how it could be applied to MPAs,” state co-authors Nir Becker and Yael Choresh, both of Haifa University (Israel). The 68-page report Economic Aspects of Marine Protected Areas was published by the Tunisia-based Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), which advises and assists Mediterranean countries in protecting biodiversity. It is available in PDF format at

New information tools on coral reef MPAs

Information on MPAs with coral reefs in East Asia and Micronesia is available on a new DVD and associated website, launched in June 2007 at the 21st Pacific Science Congress in Okinawa, Japan. The DVD and website (“Coral Reef MPAs of East Asia and Micronesia”) provide site data on MPAs in 16 countries, as well as country and region summary reports and a GIS map. The materials are the product of a collaborative project between The WorldFish Center and the Japan Wildlife Research Center, and funded by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment as part of the Japan-Palau joint ICRI Secretariat Plan of Action 2005-2007. For more information, go to

Members of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) approved a recommendation in April 2007 on developing MPA networks. The statement urges ICRI members to establish and effectively manage MPAs, recognizing that approaches to MPAs vary considerably among ICRI member countries and regions. ICRI is a partnership among governments, international organizations, and NGOs. The recommendation document is available in PDF format at

Spanish-language “Training of Trainers” course available in September

A course to instruct MPA managers from the Caribbean on how to train local personnel in MPA management will be held 9-23 September in Tulum, Mexico. Facilitated by the UNEP-Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), this “Training of Trainers” course will be in Spanish only. UNEP-CEP has offered Spanish- or English-language versions of the course each year since 1999 (MPA News 2:2). Training modules will cover the subjects of biology, impacts of use, participative planning, research and monitoring, and communications, among other subjects. For more information, go to

Article available on development of pelagic MPAs

A recent article in Marine and Freshwater Research journal (Vol. 58, pp. 558-569) uses MARXAN spatial planning software to model marine reserve networks on the open ocean, including how large these would need to be to be effective. Three distinct management approaches were evaluated for the networks: fisheries priority, conservation priority, and equal fisheries-conservation priority. Co-authors Jane Alpine and Alistair Hobday of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) concluded that setting aside from 7%-26% of the open ocean in no-take reserves would enable any of the three management scenarios to be effective, despite the dynamism of open ocean ecosystems and the high mobility of pelagic species. “Although a first step, the study provides an encouraging result, firmly indicating that the notion of pelagic protected areas [holds] as yet untapped protection possibilities,” write the authors. For an electronic copy of the article, e-mail Jane Alpine at

Paper discusses cold-water coral disease in MPA

A new paper in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms (Vol. 76, pp. 87-97) describes the first recorded incidence of disease in cold-water corals. The disease, discovered in 2002 in the UK’s no-take Lundy Marine Nature Reserve, causes death in Eunicella verrucosa, a coral species on the international “red list” of threatened species. “We found an outbreak of disease that has since been recorded all around southwest England,” says Jason Hall-Spencer, a biologist at the University of Plymouth who co-authored the paper with James Pike and Colin Munn. “This is a worry since a highly protected species in a highly protected area has been dying off.”

Munn, a microbiologist, says it appears that environmental stress has altered the normal balance of microbes populating the coral species (a type of sea fan), allowing disease-producing bacteria to take over. “Nutrient enrichment and temperature increases have been shown to be responsible for other coral diseases, but what triggered this outbreak is still unclear,” says Munn. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Jason Hall-Spencer at