Planning for IMPAC3 this October in full swing

The Third International Marine Protected Areas Congress – the world’s largest MPA-focused conference – will be held this 21-27 October in Marseille and Corsica, France. Early registration is open until 18 August at Here are some of the latest facts and figures about the program:

  • Within a submission period of just two months, more than 900 abstracts were received. France accounted for roughly one-quarter of the submissions. The rest of Europe accounted for another quarter, followed by the Americas (20%), Africa (10%), Asia (10%), and countries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans (10%).
  • After review, 700 abstracts were retained, and are being slotted into one of five formats: plenary talks and debates, workshops, Knowledge Cafés, Ocean+ Presentations, and Posters.
  • Workshops will emphasize dialogue with the audience. Knowledge Cafés will be roundtables gathering six to twelve speakers sharing common concerns. Ocean+ Presentations will be interactive, multimedia presentations with broad appeal.
  • To help attendees keep track of what is happening, web broadcasts will deliver background information and breaking news from all corners of the meeting.
  • For an overview of day-specific topics and streams, go to

Canada designates new sponge closures

In June, Canada designated two new fisheries closures off its Atlantic Coast to protect a rare species of sponge. The species Vazella pourtalesi is known to exist in only two other locations worldwide, the Gulf of Mexico and the Azores. In Canadian waters, the species forms particularly large aggregations, and the two largest aggregations are now included in the closures. The closures cover a total of 259 km2 on the eastern Scotian Shelf, and are off-limits to fishing with bottom-contact gear, including drags, traps, barrels, bottom-set trawls, longlines, and gillnets. Fishing gear that does not contact the seafloor will continue to be allowed. For more information on the sponges and closures, go to

Bermuda government proposes no-take zone in EEZ

The Bermuda Government will conduct a national consultation this year on a proposal to create a no-take marine reserve in the country’s EEZ. In a statement to the Bermuda House of Assembly on 7 June, Environment Minister Sylvan Richards said the consultation would help the Government decide whether there should be a no-take zone, and, if so, what the size, shape, and location should be. The Minister’s full statement is available at

Meeting spurs set of new commitments for Caribbean MPAs

The inaugural Caribbean Summit of Political and Business Leaders, held in the British Virgin Islands in May, resulted in an extraordinary set of commitments from governments and corporations to protect the region’s marine and coastal environment. Co-hosted by the Prime Minister of Grenada, the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, and Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, the commitments included approximately US $64 million in announced funding to support marine and coastal conservation, along with commitments to take new actions and to put in place more sustainable business practices.

A focus of the event was the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, in which countries commit to protect at least 20% of their marine and coastal environments by 2020 ( At the meeting, six Caribbean governments announced new commitments for MPAs in their waters: Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. In addition, government funding agencies and NGOs announced several new programs, including Germany’s $50 million for marine conservation in the Caribbean. For more information on the Summit and a complete list of commitments made, go to

Several new publications on Mediterranean MPAs

MedPAN, the network of Mediterranean MPA managers, continues to produce a remarkable number of high-quality reports on a variety of MPA management and planning topics. Here are four new ones, all released in July 2013:

Visitor Use Observation and Monitoring in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A Manager’s Handbook
Describes the impacts of tourism, the scientific monitoring of tourist use, and appropriate management measures.

Recreational Fisheries in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas
Synthesizes all scientific studies, regulations, and management activities on recreational fishing in Mediterranean MPAs, and recommends strategies for managing this increasingly popular activity.

Guide for Quick Evaluation of Management in Mediterranean MPAs
Provides a series of 18 indicators to assess all dimensions of MPA management, from management approaches to final outcomes. This evaluation tool is meant to encourage adaptive management by pointing out the areas in which actions are most needed.

Status of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean 2012
Analyzes MPAs in the region according to level of protection, representativeness, connectivity, management, uses, and pressures. The report updates the first Status of Marine Protected Areas study, conducted in 2008.

Each of these publications is available at

Study seeks examples of private MPAs

A new research project funded by the Linden Trust is collecting evidence about the extent and variety of private protected areas (PPAs) around the world. The project, which is collaborating closely with IUCN-WCPA, will build up a series of national and themed case studies, working with in-country partners. It will also seek to strengthen and expand the definition of PPAs, building on the 2008 IUCN protected area category guidelines. Anyone with information to share or questions about the project should contact Sue Stolton of Equilibrium Research at

Paper: status and scientific needs of MPA implementation in Europe

An independent board of European ocean researchers – the European Marine Board – has released a position paper on MPAs in Europe, including on the status of MPA implementation at the European level and the scientific needs for achieving coherent MPA networks across the continent. The 88-page paper “Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Networks in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities” is available at

Most coastal US states have zero no-take areas

A review of coastal states and territories in the US has found that a majority of them have zero no-take areas, meaning they allow at least some form of extractive use throughout their waters. The report SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? concludes that most states are failing to safeguard their marine life, seafood, and coasts. The study was conducted by the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI).

The US has 28 coastal states and territories. Of these, 15 have 0% no-take coverage. An additional ten have only a very small amount: 1% coverage or less. Just three states or territories – Hawaii (22.95%), California (8.74%), and US Virgin Islands (5.69%) – have significant no-take coverage. “No-take marine protected areas are the gold-standard for healthy oceans,” said Lance Morgan, President of MCI. “But far too few states and territories are designating them.” The report is available at

Comparative analysis of US marine conservation law praises Sanctuaries Act

A new report provides a comparative analysis of US domestic legal mechanisms for protecting marine ecosystems, including the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other laws. The publication concludes that the NMSA is the most effective and comprehensive approach currently available to protect specific areas in coastal and ocean areas. The NMSA’s advantages over other authorities include the authorization of comprehensive, ecosystem-based approaches to solving problems; the allowance of various compatible uses, including fishing, boating, diving, and other forms of human activity; comprehensive law enforcement authority; and significant stakeholder involvement. The report Area-Based Management of Marine Resources was published by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Sea Grant Law Center, and is available at

UK study: MPA network would be worth billions of pounds to economy

A study of divers and anglers in the UK has determined that designating a network of 127 protected areas in the country’s waters – as proposed last year by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs – would hold an annual value to the UK economy of billions of pounds. The calculations were based on a combination of current recreational use value of the sites, added recreational use value resulting from heightened protection, and non-use value. Non-use value includes the option of enjoying a site in the future, as well as the value of knowing a site is protected for generations. Conducted by researchers at four universities, the study The Value of Marine Protected Areas in the UK to Divers and Anglers is at

Paper: screening process needed for what should count as MPAs in global tallies

A recent paper in the journal Aquatic Conservation questions whether some sites being included in global MPA coverage calculations should, in fact, be considered legitimate marine protected areas. Tyler Eddy of Dalhousie University in Canada takes particular issue with New Zealand’s Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs), which cover 1.2 million km2 and account for 20% of total global MPA coverage, according to recent calculations. Although the BPAs were designated with nature conservation as their stated primary objective – consistent with IUCN guidelines for being considered as MPAs – Eddy says the planning involved no expert scientific opinion and the resulting sites provide little real protection. He suggests a screening system be put in place to gauge whether sites being counted in national and global calculations were designated with conservation in deed, not just in word. The paper “On the need for meaningful marine protected area (MPA) standards” is at You can also email Tyler Eddy for a copy at