IMPAC3 website releases call for content

The website of the Third International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3), scheduled from 21-27 October in Marseille and Corsica, France, is up and running at In addition to providing information on the conference, the website aims to offer content on MPA developments worldwide, as well as ocean conservation in general. To fulfill that aim, the congress organizers invite the MPA community to submit news, photos and videos reflecting the full diversity of MPAs, related programs, research, events, and techniques around the world. “IMPAC3 is a congress for and by the MPA community: we all stand to gain from pooling experience and knowledge,” says Paul Gouin, who is handling communications and multimedia for IMPAC3. To share content, contact him at

Abstract submissions for the IMPAC3 program closed on 10 May. More than 700 abstracts were received.

Deep-water coral reefs to be protected in Colombia

On 24 May, the Colombian environment ministry will designate a national park to protect its deep sea coral reefs – the 1420-km2 Deep-water Coral National Natural Park. The MPA will be 32 miles off Colombia’s Caribbean coast, and will include reefs that are at depths beyond 100 meters. According to Colombia’s Institute of Marine Research (INVEMAR), the deep-water reefs contain remarkable biodiversity: 19 species of Scleractinian corals, 115 species of invertebrates and fish, and 38 species of echinoderms, among other sea life. Fishing and oil exploration will be off-limits in the MPA, although oil exploration will be allowed in adjacent areas. A news report on the MPA (in Spanish) is at

Special issue of journal: lessons from California’s MPA network planning process

The March 2013 special issue of Ocean & Coastal Management journal provides 10 articles by key participants in California’s multi-year process to plan a coherent network of MPAs in its state waters. The process, called the Marine Life Protection Act initiative, incorporated significant stakeholder input and resulted in a dramatic increase in MPA coverage, from 2.7% of state waters to 16%. Similarly, no-take area coverage rose from less than 1% to 9.4% of state waters. The articles analyze the challenges, achievements and lessons learned in the public MPA planning process. The issue is available free of charge at

Business model proposed to help marine reserves pay for themselves

The financial value of no-take marine reserves – in terms of tourism revenue generated inside the reserves + enhanced fishing in adjacent areas – may often exceed the value of the site prior to designation, and economic benefits can offset the costs in as little as five years. Those are among the conclusions of a new paper in PLoS ONE journal, which proposes a general business model for such reserves. The research team, led by Enric Sala of the National Geographic Society, analyzed peer-reviewed studies of 124 marine reserves in 29 countries. They write, “Our bio-economic model shows that fishing revenue increases after the creation of a reserve, and also that tourism revenue surpasses the revenues from fishing. [T]he typical concern about short-term revenue losses associated to reserve creation, especially for fishers, should be easily addressed with a proper business plan that estimates revenue projections, accounts for costs, and identifies financing mechanisms.” The article is available for free at

Study: Five factors determine effectiveness of MPA networks and large MPAs

There are five key elements that determine the effectiveness of MPA networks and large MPAs, according to a recent study. Conducted by Blue Earth Consultants, the study polled 33 MPA practitioners, primarily in North America, and analyzed 10 cases of MPA network implementation. The five elements are:

  • Legal framework: A legal mandate needs to be in place at the onset of implementation. It must hold up to legal scrutiny and outline the goal(s) of the network.
  • Strong management plan: A strong management plan contains a clearly defined vision, as well as measurable goals and objectives that are easily understood.
  • Operational capacity: Having the necessary skills, staff, infrastructure, and volunteers is key to conducting effective on-the-ground implementation.
  • Social capital: Trust and buy-in from stakeholders and communities can build long-term compliance, financial support, and political will for the protected areas.
  • Long-term financial sustainability: Diversified funding streams are key to ensuring long-term financial support.

The study was funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to inform MPA monitoring efforts in the US state of California. For more information on the study, email Sara Lowell at