Canada designates MPA to protect globally unique glass sponge reefs

On 16 February, the Government of Canada designated a 2410-km2 MPA along its Pacific coast to protect several globally unique and ancient glass sponge reefs. The glass sponges have mineral skeletons made of silica (hence their ‘glass’ name) and their reef structures are estimated to be 9000 years old. Glass sponge reefs of this size — once abundant during Earth’s Jurassic Period — were believed by scientists to be extinct before these colonies were discovered off Canada in 1987.

The MPA’s full name is the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area. It comprises three discontiguous areas that each encompass a distinct reef site. Within each area are different management zones with varying levels of protection, including a Core Protection Zone around each reef in which all fishing is off-limits. Limited fishing will be allowed in the other zones. Local fishing groups have honored a voluntary closure around the reefs since 2000.

The Government press release on the new MPA is here. Regulations that were proposed for the site in 2015 are here. Canada first identified the reefs as an Area of Interest for possible MPA designation in 2010.

New multi-use MPA in Chile

On 31 January, Chile designated the Mar de Juan Fernández Coastal Marine Protected Area of Multiple Uses, an 11,000-km2 site that includes deep-sea corals, sponge habitats, and migratory routes for sea turtles and marine mammals. The MPA includes commercially fished areas as well as several smaller marine parks in which fishing will be limited. For media coverage see this (English) and this (Spanish).

Interconnected system of marine parks finalized in Western Australia

With its designation in December 2016 of the 18,500-km2 North Kimberley Marine Park, the government of the state of Western Australia has completed a new interconnected system of marine parks and reserves that covers a total of 30,000 km2 of coastal waters, including 1000 islands. All together, the new system is called the Great Kimberley Marine Park. The system will be jointly managed with traditional owners. The Western Australian Government press release on the North Kimberley Marine Park designation is here.

Report on harnessing ecological connectivity for more effective MPA planning and management

The US Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee has produced a report on using ecological connectivity to make MPAs more effective and marine ecosystems more resilient. The publication analyzes the science on marine ecological spatial connectivity; suggests guidelines for incorporating connectivity in MPA planning and management; and recommends actions by US ocean agencies to support these guidelines. The 68-page report Harnessing Ecological Spatial Connectivity for Effective Marine Protected Areas and Resilient Marine Ecosystems: Scientific Synthesis and Action Agenda is available here.

A webinar on the report’s findings and recommendations will be held on 9 March and will be co-hosted by MPA News, the US National MPA Center, and the EBM Tools Network. For more information or to register, click here.

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: March-April 2012

  • The MPA Math: How to Reach the 10% Target for Global MPA Coverage
  • MPA Perspective: Key Lessons Learned in the Management of MPAs and Marine Natural Resources

Ten years ago: February 2007

  • Educating Stakeholders about MPAs: Practitioners Use an Array of Methods
  • MPA Perspective: Aligning the Interests of Anglers and Conservation Groups on MPAs

Fifteen years ago: February 2002

  • Managing Water Quality in MPAs: How Practitioners Are Handling the Challenges
  • MPA Perspective: Advice for Promoting Participation of Authorities and Stakeholders in MPA Planning

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

MPA Poetry Corner

You May Call Me Protected

By Peter Stoett

You may call me “protected” and
poster me on your conscience-soothing
conservation trophy wall.
You may consider me a saved relic
here behind invisible liquid lines,
rescued from greed and negligence.
My coral safe from tourists’ stupid feet;
my silver fish spawning and schooling;
my sharks well-fed, and my gentle giant
whales resting in wise contemplation;
my waters silent but for postcard waves,
the yearning calls of marine lust
and the lurking echoes of feasting seabirds.
You may expect my timeless gratitude
and celebrate my political isolation
from the rest of the universal ocean
(the one that keeps your hearts beating).

Yet I feel my coral bleaching
as acid eats away its brittle skin, and
crustaceans scurry for safety from my water,
once my gift of life, now a blanket of danger.
I digest litter delivered by foreign currents,
plastic choking my arteries, starving my birds,
nanoparticles permeating my plankton.
Invading species and terrible storms visit often.
Sharks flee distant fin markets and
whales enter gasping from fires afar.
My sediment is soaked in global grime.
Fish are adapting and evolving too slowly as
my water warms and rises, confusing me.
My coastal people grow hungry, deprived of
my riches as you dither with your endless
photographic deliberation
(and fatal deliberate procrastination).

Am I “protected”, or just dying
a little slower than my blue brethren?

About the poet: Peter Stoett is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Loyola Sustainable Research Center at Concordia University, in Canada.

Note from the editor of Poetry Corner, Anna Zivian ( “For people who work on MPAs, this month’s poem may at first glance seem disheartening. I see it rather as presenting a challenge: encouraging consideration of multiple stressors when designing MPAs, and demanding a focus on broad, ecosystem-based management. I am interested in how you view it, and would love your responses, whether in prose or poetic form.”