Cook Islands announces MPA will cover entire EEZ

In mid-November, the South Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands announced that the proposed Marae Moana (Cook Islands Marine Park), which has been under planning since 2012, will now cover the nation’s entire 1.9 million-km2 EEZ. Previously the plan had been for the MPA to cover just the southern half of the nation’s EEZ. The decision to expand the planned MPA was based on consultations with stakeholders in the Cook Islands’ northern island group, as well as local and outside scientific information.

The MPA will be multiple-use and will represent a ‘whole domain’ management approach for the waters of the Cook Islands — balancing biodiversity conservation with sustainable economic growth, food security, livelihoods, and cultural traditions. What areas of the MPA will be under full protection is still being negotiated between the government and stakeholders. In 2012, MPA News reported on the multiple-use plans for the MPA.

Canada designates new Arctic MPA based on indigenous traditional knowledge

Canada has designated a new MPA under its Oceans Act: the 2361-km2 Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected Area in the Beaufort Sea, off the nation’s Arctic coast. All commercial extractive activity is banned in the new MPA. The government noted this is the nation’s first Marine Protected Area with conservation objectives based specifically on indigenous traditional knowledge. Subsistence fishing and hunting by indigenous Inuvialuit people will still be allowed in the area.

The marine area is highly productive and provides habitat for species such as Arctic char, beluga and bowhead whales, polar bears, ringed and bearded seals, and seabirds. Together with the nearby Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area, the new MPA will protect critical habitat for about 28%, or close to 40,000, of the world’s belugas.

The site was nominated as an Area of Interest for consideration as an MPA back in 2010. A government press release on the MPA designation is here and a backgrounder is here. A June 2016 regulatory impact analysis statement on the proposed MPA by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans provides more background on the site, the rationale for protection, a cost-benefit analysis, map, and more.

Philippines and China may have agreed on marine reserve for disputed shoal in South China Sea

In what could be a breakthrough in the multi-year geopolitical dispute over national territory in the South China Sea, the Philippines has indicated it has received approval from China to turn the lagoon inside Panatag Shoal (also called Scarborough Shoal) into a no-take area — a peace park of sorts. The MPA designation plan comes four months after the Philippines won an international arbitration ruling that challenged China’s claim to the shoal. China seized the shoal in 2012 and has held it since then. As this issue of MPA News went to press, the Chinese government had not yet officially acknowledged its approval of the forthcoming no-take area. More coverage of the Philippine announcement is here.

Australian scientists urge Government not to reduce no-take areas in national MPA system

In response to a Government-sponsored review of Australia’s national MPA system that recommended significant cuts to the system’s no-take areas, a group of Australian scientists has urged the Government to reject the review’s recommendations and instead expand protections.

In a statement the Ocean Science Council of Australia wrote, “While the Review has proposed some improvements in areas protected from the expansion of extractive industries such as mining, it has failed to address core gaps in representation of marine habitats in the network, and eroded the coverage of the [no-take Marine National Park Zones] that were established in 2012.” The Ocean Science Council’s statement is here.

The Government review was released in September and recommended the removal of a total of 127,000 km2 of Marine National Park Zones from the MPA system. Hardest hit would be the 1 million-km2 Coral Sea Marine Reserve, whose no-take coverage would be reduced from 50% to 41%. The Director of National Parks is now using the review’s recommendations and public feedback as the bases for preparing new draft management plans for the reserve system.

New issue of PARKS journal

The latest issue of PARKS journal (Volume 22.2) is available here. It includes articles on equity in protected area conservation, transforming a paper park to a model protected area, insurance programs for rangers, and more. The journal is produced by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and is free to download.

New IUCN report on how MPAs can help mitigate and build resilience to climate change

A new report from IUCN describes the roles and importance of MPAs in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Potential roles for MPAs include serving as ‘stepping stones’ or corridors for shifting species; providing sentinel sites from which to monitor climate-based ecosystem changes; serving as blue carbon sinks; and reducing other ocean stressors that could otherwise worsen the impacts of climate change. The report features eight brief case studies. “Marine Protected Areas and climate change: Adaptation and mitigation synergies, opportunities and challenges” is free to download.

Earlier this year, MPA News reported on how MPAs can help mitigate the impacts of climate change through coastal blue carbon, ‘fish carbon’, and more.

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: November-December 2011

  • Marine Debris and MPAs: Managing the Impacts of Litter on Marine Ecosystems
  • MPA Perspective: Creation of a Network of Locally Managed Marine Areas in the Western Indian Ocean

Ten years ago: November 2006

  • Bringing MPAs Online: The Use of Webcams for Education, Monitoring, and Other Purposes
  • MPA Perspective: A Practical Rule of Thumb for Spacing in MPA Networks

Fifteen years ago: November 2001

  • Conserving Habitats that Are Poorly Understood: Deepwater Corals and Efforts to Protect Them
  • MPA Perspective: Why and How MPA Planners Should Obtain Fishermen’s Knowledge

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

Poetry Corner

MPAs, an acrostic

By Anna Zivian

Most of us think about

Parks as places we hike

And play sports, take pictures.

Some parks, though, take us a

Minute to recognize

A second thought, a look

To the sea, underneath

The waves, out of view, where

Everything’s connected.

Right before us, hidden

There in plain sight, parks of

Ocean habitats keep

All of us afloat; our

Lives rely on those waves,

Layers, multitudes, with

Otters, orcas, urchins,

Fish, algae, pelicans,

Under or floating on

Sea foam, flying above

Sky shimmer reflected

Underneath. We need to

Protect these hidden-seen

Places, familiar but

Obscure at once, places

Revealed only when we

Think, touch, are shown; places

That give us food, life, breath,

Health and a space to heal.

Enigmatic but known

Magic but still real.

About the poet: Anna Zivian is a senior research fellow at Ocean Conservancy.

If you would like to submit a marine-themed (and ideally MPA-themed) poem to Poetry Corner for consideration, please email it to Selected poets will receive an MPA News tote bag.