UK recalculates Chagos MPA size; finds it is 100,000 km2 larger than announced

You know your MPA is big when the officially announced size is off by 100,000 km2 and no one catches the mistake for two years. The Chagos Marine Protected Area has been widely reported – including by the UK Government, which designated it in April 2010 – to be 544,000 km2 in size. But a reassessment by the UK Hydrographic Office this year has placed the correct figure at roughly 640,000 km2, more than 17% larger than previously estimated.

According to UK officials, the origin of the prior miscalculation remains unclear. MPA News suspects it was an error of exclusion: the MPA covers both the EEZ and territorial sea of the Chagos Archipelago, but the Government’s original calculation appears to have included only the EEZ area.In our May-June 2010 issue, MPA News reported the size of the Chagos Marine Protected Area as 636,600 km2, based on our summation of the EEZ and territorial sea. Unfortunately we changed our reporting of the MPA’s area to 544,000 km2 in later issues (MPA News 12:3 and 13:2) to match government reports.

Chile announces plan to expand Motu Motiro Hiva reserve

The Chilean Government has announced its intent to expand the boundaries of the remote, 150,000-km2 Salas y Gómez Marine Park. The expansion plan follows a joint research expedition to the no-take MPA in 2011 by the Chilean Navy, Oceana, and the National Geographic Society. That expedition resulted in a proposal by Oceana to expand the MPA to 411,000 km2 to help rebuild fisheries for nearby Easter Island. Such an expansion would make the MPA the second largest no-take marine reserve in the world after the UK’s Chagos Marine Protected Area.

Sala y Gómez Marine Park is 3000 km west of the Chilean mainland, and is also known by its indigenous islander name of Motu Motiro Hiva. Any expansion of its area must be approved by the indigenous Rapa Nui people, who live on Easter Island. A referendum is expected by the end of this year. An Oceana press release on the intended expansion is at .

Mediterranean meeting of MPA managers and artisanal fishers results in recommendations

In mid-March of this year, 23 artisanal fishermen and 24 MPA staffers from several EU countries – Croatia, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Slovenia – gathered in France to discuss how MPAs and small-scale fishers can work toward common goals. Participants agreed on several conclusions, including that MPAs are a good tool for managing artisanal fisheries, and that co-management between MPAs and artisanal fishers can contribute to economic sustainability of the fisheries. The meeting was convened by the MedPAN North project and partners.

A main purpose of the meeting was to highlight positive case studies of successful artisanal fisheries in Mediterranean MPAs. Attendees expressed frustration that, in their view, the European Commission – which is currently reforming its fisheries policy – does not sufficiently recognize and support the role of artisanal fishers in healthy Mediterranean fisheries. More information on the meeting is at .

Best practices for benthic protection areas

A new publication by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an organization that advises the US commercial fishing industry on sustainable seafood, describes best practices for the planning and management of benthic protection areas (BPAs). Generally, BPAs protect seafloor habitat by limiting or banning bottom-impacting gear. Other gear types are typically still allowed.

The report examines three cases of BPAs in practice – the Alaska Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands; Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; and the New Zealand EEZ. In each case, the relevant governance and design are examined, and opinions of the BPA from industry and conservation NGOs are described. “We hope this report provides useful general guidance to fisheries on how to design and implement BPA networks, and to the seafood supply chain on how to monitor and encourage their progress,” said Jim Cannon, CEO of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

The report Benthic Protection Areas: Best Practices and Recommendations is at .

Study: wind farms could be productive marine reserves if grouped together

A study of one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms – the Horns Rev 1 farm in the Danish North Sea with 80 turbines – shows the facility does not adversely impact fish species that depend on the same sandy bottom environment as the turbines require. The wind farm also provides reef-like habitat for species with affinity to reefs. In light of these findings, and in light of the no-take regulations within the farm, the researchers (from the consultancy Orbicon and the Technical University of Denmark) suggest that such offshore wind facilities could conceivably help rebuild overfished stocks – particularly if several farms were grouped together.

“Our studies suggest that the Horns Rev 1 wind farm is too small [by itself] to function as a true marine protected area, because over their lifecycles the fish utilize a much greater area than just the wind farm,” said biologist Claus Stenberg. “But presumably several farms located close to one another could have a combined positive effect on spawning and the survival of fish fry, as wind farms that are located downstream of each other can act as a kind of dispersion corridor for eggs and larvae.”

The study “Effect of the Horns Rev 1 Offshore Wind Farm on Fish Communities” is at .

Publication: Monitoring climate effects in temperate MPAs

A new publication provides a framework for monitoring the impacts of climate change on marine protected areas. Focusing on MPAs in the US state of California, the report aims to inform adaptive management of the state’s temperate marine ecosystem. Among other guidelines, it describes how certain species can indicate the impacts of climate change, and how these species can be incorporated in existing monitoring programs.

“Many of the same tools that are used for MPA monitoring today are useful for assessing the effects of climate change and working to envision management responses,” states the report. “There are, however, many opportunities for expanding the monitoring toolkit by learning how to use old tools in new ways and adding new tools.”

Monitoring Climate Effects in Temperate Marine Ecosystems: A test-case using California’s MPAs was authored by EcoAdapt for the California Ocean Science Trust. It is at .

Program launched to support MPA manager exchanges in Caribbean

The Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM) has launched a project to support learning exchanges among MPA managers throughout the Caribbean. Funded by the Italian government and occurring in May 2012, the exchanges are intended to help disseminate best management practices for MPAs in the region.

The project includes:

  • Dominican managers exchanging with Cuban colleagues at several MPA sites to learn about the development of Cuba’s national MPA system;
  • Grenadian MPA staffers participating in a regional workshop in San Andres, Colombia, and learning from local managers on the participatory planning and management tools used at the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve;
  • Park rangers from St. Vincent and the Grenadines visiting the Biscayne and Everglades National Parks in Florida, US, to discuss MPA enforcement; and
  • MPA and fisheries managers from Antigua and Barbuda attending a workshop of the Dutch Caribbean MPA managers, and visiting the Saba Marine Park and the Saba Bank to learn about management tools there.

More information on CaMPAM is at .

EU project seeks to train “next generation of MPA scientists and managers”

A European Commission-funded project to expose young and mid-career researchers in the Mediterranean to an array of MPA-related skills is currently seeking candidates. Intended to train “the next generation of MPA scientists and managers”, the project will provide instruction on everything from species identification to fisheries management to stakeholder engagement and more. In total, the project will hire ten early-stage researchers (each receiving a 36-month Ph.D. candidate position) and four experienced researchers (each receiving a six-month postdoctoral position).

Each participating fellow will follow a research project that serves the particular needs of a participating MPA, and part of his or her time will be spent at the associated MPA. “Our fellows will be trained in the research needed to support informed decisions by Mediterranean MPA administrators, and to reach out to the different layers of society,” says project director Carlo Cerrano. For more information, go to .