Canada designates seven new marine refuges to protect benthic species, habitats

In December 2017, Canada designated seven new marine refuges off the coast of its territory of Nunavut and its province of Newfoundland & Labrador. The refuges are designed to protect corals, sponges, and other seafloor species and habitats. Five of the sites will prohibit all bottom-contact fishing activities; the other two will prohibit bottom trawl, gillnet, and longline fishing activities. All together, the seven new MPAs total 145,598 km2 of protected ocean area, equal to 2.53% of Canada’s ocean area.

Azerbaijan is designating first MPA in Caspian Sea

Azerbaijan is expanding a coastal wetland protected area – the Gizilaghaj State Reserve, designated in 1929 – into the marine waters of the Caspian Sea, and re-designating it as a national park. The expansion (from 883 km2 to 1000 km2) will create the first marine protected area in the Caspian Sea. The waters are home to several rare marine species, including the Beluga sturgeon and the Caspian salmon. More information on the new MPA is here.

United Nations approves resolution to negotiate international treaty to protect high seas biodiversity

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution to convene negotiations for an international treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity. This is another important step toward enacting a global framework for protecting species and ecosystems outside national jurisdictions, including with MPAs. The resolution was anticipated since July 2017 when a UN Preparatory Committee officially recommended that the General Assembly launch an intergovernmental conference to negotiate such a treaty. 

The forthcoming treaty negotiation process will be organized around 4 sessions of 10 working days – one in the second half of 2018, two in 2019 and one in the first half of 2020. Media coverage of the resolution is here.

Coral Reef Conservation Fund requests proposals for 2018

The Coral Reef Conservation Fund, operated by NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, has released its 2018 request for proposals. The program is open to US and non-US applicants. Program priorities vary by region, and include:

  • Identifying priority reefs and opportunities for recovery (US priority)
  • Implementation of management plans, including for MPAs (US priority)
  • Increasing management capacity for coral conservation (non-US and US priorities)

Pre-proposals are due 15 March 2018.

Nominations sought for 2018 Global Ocean Refuge awards

The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) – an initiative to incentivize designation of strongly protected MPAs across 30% of the world ocean – is seeking nominations of MPAs to receive Global Ocean Refuge status in 2018. To learn more about the program or to nominate a site, click here.

Last year, GLORES inscribed its first three Global Ocean Refuges: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (US), Tubbataha Reef National Park (Philippines), and Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (Colombia). GLORES is an initiative of Marine Conservation Institute.

Breaking down the paywall in marine science

Oceans Deeply has an article on the latest efforts to make marine science freely available to resource managers who need it to do their work. The article features MarXiv (rhymes with archive), the new online repository of free marine conservation science and marine climate change science. Although still just getting started, MarXiv has already saved users US $20,000 this year on downloads of otherwise paywalled papers. If you are a marine scientist, please make your research available on MarXiv. MarXiv is an initiative of OCTO, which also publishes MPA News.

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: January-February 2013

  • New Year’s Resolutions for the MPA Field: What Practitioners Would Like to Happen in 2013
  • Identifying Three Types of Ecologically Important Sites on the High Seas

Ten years ago: February 2008

  • New Project to Strengthen the World Database on Protected Areas: What MPA Practitioners Can Expect
  • MPA Perspective: The International Year of the Reef 2008 — Time to Renew Efforts for Coral Reef MPAs

Fifteen years ago: February 2003

  • Balancing Ecology and Economics, Part II: Lessons Learned from Planning an MPA Network in Victoria, Australia
  • MPA Perspective: Tips for Developing Marine Boundaries

For these and all other issues of MPA News, go to