New manual available on Marxan

A new user’s manual is available for Marxan, a software program that provides support for decision-making on MPA design. The manual provides readers with the basic knowledge needed to use the software, including the questions it can help to answer, its limitations, and what data inputs are required.

In most reserve-design processes, a planner has several potential sites from which to select new conservation areas, subject to various constraints. Marxan helps planners find a range of near-optimal solutions quickly, even for very large planning projects. The software has been instrumental in the design of multiple marine reserve networks in recent years, including for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Australia) and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (U.S.). Use of Marxan by MPA planners was discussed in our October 2004 edition (MPA News 6:4).

The Marxan User Manual for Marxan Version 1.8.10 is published by the University of Queensland and the Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association (PacMARA). It is available online at

Website: social dimensions of MPAs

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) has launched a new website on MPAs, providing perspectives on the planning tool from local and traditional fishing communities. The website currently includes an overview of MPAs, an outline of international legal instruments protecting the resource rights of local communities, and summaries of case studies from five countries (Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand).

“For MPAs to yield positive outcomes both for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, implementation efforts need to take into account, and strengthen, traditional rights of communities to use resources in sustainable ways,” states ICSF. “They also need to recognize and support local systems of governance, take into account traditional knowledge systems, and ensure that communities benefit. This website attempts to explore these issues.” The website is

Researchers calculate costs, benefits of high seas marine reserves

Closure of 20% of the high seas may lead to the loss of just 1.8% of the current global reported marine fisheries catch, and a decrease in profits to the high seas fleet of about US $270 million per year, according to a study in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The paper’s authors – a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia (Canada) – conclude, “At globally minimal costs, the international community could benefit substantially by securing insurance against extinctions and the loss of the spectacular marine diversity in the high and deep seas.” The paper “Potential costs and benefits of marine reserves in the high seas” is in Vol. 345, pp. 305-310, of the journal.

For more information: Ussif Rashid Sumaila, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada. E-mail:

Report: Quantifying environmental benefits of UK Marine Bill

A new report quantifies the environmental benefits to come from implementing a network of MPAs in UK waters, as recommended last year in a proposed Marine Bill to introduce a national marine planning system (MPA News 8:9). Commissioned by the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), the report determines a monetary estimate of environmental benefits, measuring projected changes in the provision of ecosystem goods and services as compared to a status quo scenario. The report claims to be the first appraisal of protected areas to derive values for all ecosystem goods and services arising from area designation and regulatory restrictions. Marine Bill – Marine Nature Conservation Proposals – Valuing the Benefits (Final Report) is available at

Report describes state of deep coral ecosystems of U.S.

A new publication from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes the state of the nation’s deep sea coral ecosystems, and profiles management actions to protect more than 500,000 square miles of seafloor in the Pacific region, including coral habitats. The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United States 2007 is available in PDF format at

U.S. congressional body releases report on MPAs

The U.S. Congressional Research Service has produced an overview report on MPAs, describing the tool’s benefits and challenges as well as relevant federal laws and programs. The report cites the likelihood that the current Congress will consider MPAs during its reauthorization of laws to manage coastal zone and marine protection designations, as well as appropriations for marine programs. The report Marine Protected Areas: An Overview is available at