We are live-blogging the International Marine Conservation Congress

MPA News’ affiliated website OpenChannels.org will be at the Fourth International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and will be live-blogging the event. The conference lasts from 30 July to 3 August. You can stay abreast of the conference’s main outcomes, news, photos, and more at www.openchannels.org/chat/imcc4.

To protect local fisheries, Cambodia designates first MPA

In June, Cambodia designated a 405-km2 MPA — the country’s first purely marine protected area — to protect local fisheries around the Koh Rong Archipelago. The Koh Rong Marine Fisheries Management Area will be multiple-use with some zones dedicated to local fishing, recreation, and other activities, and other zones no-take.

The designation marked the culmination of five years of planning by local communities, NGOs, and Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration. Kate West, coastal and marine project manager at Fauna & Flora International, said, “Given that around 60-80% of people in communities around the archipelago are engaged in fishing or related activities such as tourism, this government commitment is a critical milestone that will help ensure that the waters around Koh Rong can continue to support not only marine life but also local livelihoods long into the future.”

The site contains coral reef, mangrove, and seagrass habitats, and represents 0.7% of Cambodia’s marine waters.

For more information:

Kate West, Fauna & Flora International, Cambodia. Email: kate.west@fauna-flora.org

The Nature Conservancy is working with six small island states on marine-related debt swaps

A project in Seychelles to restructure some of its international debt in return for improved marine planning, including a goal to designate up to 30% of its waters as MPAs (MPA News 17:2), is now being replicated in other small island developing states (SIDS). The Nature Conservancy, which brokered the debt conversion for Seychelles, is actively working on six similar debt conversion projects with SIDS in the Caribbean and Pacific. Interviewed in the July-August 2016 issue of MEAM (https://oct.to/ZZH), the NGO’s director of conservation finance Robert Weary said, “We expect to close three of these debt conversions during 2017. Similar to the Seychelles, we will complete marine spatial plans with all six countries as part of the projects.”

World Heritage Committee inscribes two marine sites

In July 2016, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed two more marine sites to its World Heritage List:

  • Archipiélago de Revillagigedo, Mexico: Comprising four remote islands and their surrounding waters, this site is part of a submerged mountain range and provides critical habitat for sharks, whales, dolphins, and other pelagics.
  • Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park, Sudan: Providing a diverse system of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches, and islets, this site has a globally significant population of dugongs, as well as large populations of seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals.

With these new inscriptions, there are now 49 marine World Heritage sites. The World Heritage Marine Programme is at http://whc.unesco.org/en/marine-programme.

US committee endorses principles for Arctic MPAs

The US Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, which advises the federal government on ways to strengthen the nation’s system of MPAs, has endorsed a set of guiding principles for the designation of Arctic protected areas. Among other measures, the principles call for meaningful participation of local and indigenous communities in decisions; consideration of climate change impacts already observed in the region; consideration of cultural, economic, and biological diversity in the US Arctic; and application of the best available science, technology, and indigenous knowledge in the design and management of MPAs. The principles are at https://oct.to/ZZV.

Webinar on UN treaty negotiations for protecting high seas biodiversity

A recording is available of a 26 July webinar on negotiations toward a new United Nations treaty to protect the biodiversity of the high seas, including through the use of MPAs. The webinar was co-hosted by the MPA Action Agenda, MPA News, OpenChannels.org, and the EBM Tools Network. The recording is at www.openchannels.org/node/14066.

Blog on value of vast, remote MPAs versus smaller ones

The World Conservation Congress is approaching (1-10 September). With it will come the latest assessment of global progress toward Aichi Target 11, by which the UN Convention on Biological Diversity calls for 10% of marine areas worldwide to be conserved by 2020. In this context, the debate on the relative value of very large MPAs (hundreds of thousands of square kilometers in area) versus smaller, local MPAs is sure to be renewed. Peter Jones of University College London has authored a blog post asking whether the designation of vast, remote MPAs is leading the MPA field down the wrong track. It is at https://www.openchannels.org/node/13806.

Study: Why some coral reefs are healthier than others

A recent global study of coral reefs in Nature journal examines ‘outliers’ — places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers to which they are exposed. Examining reef fish biomass at more than 2500 reefs worldwide, the study identified 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots. The bright spots were characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Dark spots were characterized by intensive capture and storage technology, and a recent history of environmental shocks. The abstract of the paper is available at https://oct.to/ZZj.

From the MPA News vault

Five years ago: July-August 2011 (MPA News 13:1)

  • Marine Mammal Protected Areas: What Makes Them Special, and How Their Management Can Be Advanced
  • UN Working Group Recommends Path toward Multilateral Agreement on High Seas Conservation, Including MPAs

Ten years ago: July 2006 (MPA News 8:1)

  • US Designates “World’s Largest” MPA in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
  • MPAs in Indonesia: What Progress Has Been Made Since 1984?

Fifteen years ago: July 2001 (MPA News 3:1)

  • How Climate Change Could Affect MPAs: What Practitioners Need to Know
  • Plan for MPA System in Victoria (Australia) Faces Impasse on Issue of Fisher Compensation

For these and all other issues of MPA News, go to https://mpanews.openchannels.org/mpanews/archives

MPA Science Corner

  • Article: “Ordinary and Extraordinary Movement Behaviour of Small Resident Fish within a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area”, PLOS ONE 11, e0159813 (2016). https://oct.to/ZZ9
    • Finding: The daily movement behavior of the economically important white seabream in Mediterranean MPAs is more complex than previously thought, holding implications for conservation of the species and the management of benthic fishes in MPAs.
  • Article: “A synthesis of genetic connectivity in deep-sea fauna and implications for marine reserve design”, Molecular Ecology 25, 3276 – 3298 (2016). https://oct.to/ZZC
    • Finding: In this study of dispersal distances across a range of deep-sea species, the distances varied widely, from a hundred meters for some species to almost 5000 km for others. The range is comparable to or only slightly larger than for shallow water ecosystems, suggesting MPA design principles that have been developed for shallow water may be transferable to the deep sea.