Report offers priorities for coastal and marine conservation in South America

A new report published by The Nature Conservancy, an NGO, examines threats to coastal and marine biodiversity in South America and identifies priority areas for conservation in the region. The report is the result of a five-year collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the national governments of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. In each country, the planning process involved comparable methods for assessing the status of coastal and marine environments. “It is clear where efforts need to be directed, both in terms of where additional protected areas should be created and what threats need to be abated at the continental and the national levels,” states the report. It identifies the top three threats to coastal and marine biodiversity in South America as fisheries, urban development, and pollution. The report Priorities for Coastal and Marine Conservation in South America is available in PDF format at

European Commission proposes integrated maritime policy, high seas trawl ban

In October, the European Commission proposed a framework for an integrated maritime policy for the European Union. The framework would coordinate ocean-related policies in European waters and on the high seas, based in part on the ecosystem approach to management. The policy document and its accompanying action plan do not specifically call for MPAs in EU waters, but they do propose the designation of MPAs on the high seas. The action plan states that by 2009 the Commission will “put forward a strategy for the protection of high seas biodiversity through the designation of marine protected areas.” The proposed policy and action plan are available at

Also in October, the Commission proposed a strategy to protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems from destructive fishing practices. The strategy outlines initiatives the EU will take to strengthen international action on this in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), at the United Nations, and under relevant international conventions. For fishermen to operate in areas of the high seas that are not yet covered by RFMOs, the strategy would require them to obtain a special permit from their EU member state. Such permits would be issued only after the member state has assessed the potential impacts of the ship’s intended activities. In addition, fishing at depths of more than 1,000 meters would be prohibited to EU vessels. The proposed strategy is available at

Report: Best practices for regional fishery management organizations

A new report describes best practices in the implementation of regional fisheries management organizations and identifies priorities and goals that RFMOs should address to meet the challenges of global fisheries management. The report discusses MPAs as a best practice for protecting and conserving habitats, and describes examples of effective coordination between RFMOs and regional seas bodies toward implementing MPA networks. Funded by the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, as well as WWF International, the report is the product of an independent panel hosted by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, in London (UK). Recommended Best Practices for Regional Fishery Management Organizations: Report of an Independent Panel to Develop a Model for Improved Governance by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations is available in PDF format at

Paper suggests prehistoric fishermen used BOFFFF hypothesis

A new paper published in the Journal for Nature Conservation examines a 1500-year history of aboriginal fishing at a coastal village on the Pacific coast of Canada. By excavating and studying the skeletal remains of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) consumed by prehistoric inhabitants of the area, the paper concludes that aboriginal populations intentionally targeted smaller-sized rockfish individuals. Consistent with the BOFFFF hypothesis described in the September 2007 MPA News, this strategy of targeting smaller, younger fish would have facilitated a higher overall catch rate without removing reproductively potent older fish, states the paper. (The BOFFFF hypothesis proposes that maintaining old-growth age structure can be important for replenishing fished populations because larger, older females often produce significantly more offspring – and sometimes stronger offspring – than younger females do. It applies particularly well to long-lived, slow-maturing species like rockfish.)

Study author Iain McKechnie of Simon Fraser University notes that the fishery in this marine area was sustained for roughly 75 human generations. “This stands in marked contrast to the dramatic and potentially catastrophic fishery declines witnessed during the past 40 years throughout the Pacific coast of North America,” he writes. The marine area around the study site is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and was designated a no-take rockfish conservation area in 2002. For a copy of the paper “Investigating the complexities of sustainable fishing at a prehistoric fishing village on western Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada” (Journal for Nature Conservation 15[3]:208-222), e-mail Iain McKechnie at