Great Barrier Reef Marine Park approves dredging plan

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has approved a proposal to dump three million cubic meters of dredge spoils inside the marine park area. The dredge spoils, to be produced during the substantial expansion of a coal export terminal at Abbot Point (adjacent to the park), could smother nearby coral and seagrass habitats, according to more than 200 scientists who urged GBRMPA in a letter to oppose the proposal (

Defending its decision, GBRMPA said there are no coral reefs or seagrass beds within the boundaries of the approved disposal area. The Authority also said it would continue to investigate alternative disposal sites, and would support sites found to be equal to or better in terms of environmental or heritage outcomes.

The GBRMPA decision is available at

Report identifies gaps in marine World Heritage

Ecosystems in temperate and polar regions are underrepresented among marine World Heritage, which has focused primarily on tropical ecosystems, according to a recent report on marine gaps in World Heritage sites. The report also points out that the 46 marine sites currently on the UNESCO World Heritage List represent just 5% of the listed sites, despite oceans comprising over 70% of the Earth’s surface. To provide guidance for identifying more marine sites that possess “outstanding universal value” (as required to qualify as World Heritage), the report proposes 16 broad themes of marine and ocean features – ocean currents, seamounts, ice, and more – to which natural World Heritage criteria might be applied. The report Marine Natural Heritage and the World Heritage List is available at

New books on MPA governance

This new book explores questions relating to the effective and equitable governance of MPAs and options for addressing them. A key theme is that MPA governance needs to combine different approaches. Building on ideas concerning the governance of common-pool resources, author Peter Jones of University College London puts forward a more holistic and less prescriptive approach to the governance of MPAs. This trans-disciplinary analysis is aimed at supporting the development of MPA governance approaches that build social-ecological resilience through both institutional and biological diversity.

This book, published in the latter half of 2013, uses the case of a particular MPA – Cayos Cochinos Marine Protected Area off Honduras – to compare two forms of governance: co-management and adaptive co-management. At this MPA, a co-management framework was introduced in 2004 to involve local stakeholders in the MPA’s decision-making process. Four years later, to address perceived shortcomings of that governance scheme, an adaptive element was added. The authors examine the ecological and socio-economic outcomes of these governance changes and the degree to which management adhered to the principles of each governance strategy. An essay on the book by its co-author Tim Gray of Newcastle University (UK) is here.

Report: Measuring the impact of climate change on MPAs

A new IUCN report offers guidance on measuring the impact of climate change on the biodiversity of MPAs in the Mediterranean region. The 56-page report Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and Climate Change: A Guide to Regional Monitoring and Adaptation Opportunities is available at

Report gives overview of European MPA coverage

A new briefing from the European Environment Agency on the condition of Europe’s 12 regional seas includes an overview of each sea’s MPA coverage, including area covered, percentage covered, and number of MPAs. It marks the first time such an overview has been published. Of the seas under EU jurisdiction, 5.9% is protected within an MPA. The 32-page briefing “Marine Messages” is available at