Deadline for IMPAC4 submissions has been extended to 15 May (amended)

The Fourth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4) will be held 4-8 September 2017 in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile. The deadline for all submissions is 15 May. This includes submissions of presentations, symposia, workshops, and knowledge cafes. So if you are planning to present at the conference or host an event, get your submissions in soon. (Note: When this news brief was first published in mid-April, the submissions deadline for IMPAC4 was 20 April. That deadline has since been extended to 15 May. The text above has been amended accordingly.)

Survey on economic benefits of MPAs to the blue economy

An EU-funded project is conducting a survey of MPA practitioners and maritime industries (fisheries, tourism, offshore energy, etc.) to examine the economic benefits

or challenges of MPAs to the blue economy. If you would like to participate, please click here – it should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. Plymouth Marine Laboratory is conducting the survey. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about this survey and its outcomes, please contact Stefanie Broszeit at

Cook Islands bans commercial fishing in 50-nm zones around islands

In March, the South Pacific nation of the Cook Islands officially designated a 50-nm buffer zone around its islands in which all commercial fishing is now off-limits. All together, the buffer zones total an area of more than 300,000 km2. Prior to the move, longline fishing had been allowed in waters beyond 12 nm of the islands, and purse seining had been allowed in waters beyond 24 nm. Prime Minister Henry Puna said the expanded no-commercial-fishing zone would help ensure food security and reduce conflicts between fishing boats and whales. The Cook Islands Cabinet agreed to the 50-nm buffer zone back in 2014 but the Ministry of Marine Resources did not put it into effect until this year.

The buffer zone will eventually be part of Marae Moana, a proposed multiple-use MPA that has been under planning since 2012. When officially designated, Marae Moana will cover the entire 1.9 million-km2 EEZ of the Cook Islands.

Report identifies significant marine sites in Arctic, calls for protection

A new report states the Arctic Ocean needs protection as rapidly melting sea ice is opening up previously inaccessible areas to shipping, trawling, and oil exploration. Produced by IUCN, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the report identifies seven globally significant marine sites in the Arctic region that warrant protection and could potentially qualify for World Heritage status.  Currently there are five World Heritage sites within the Arctic Circle, but only one is listed for its marine values – Russia’s Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve. The report Natural Marine World Heritage in the Arctic Ocean: Report of an expert workshop and review process is available here.

New guidelines on adapting protected areas to climate change

IUCN has released guidelines to help protected area practitioners adapt their sites to climate change. The guidance features five steps: (1) Building a strong foundation of informed, flexible management; (2) Assessing vulnerability and risk; (3) Identifying and selecting adaptation options; (4) Implementation; and (5) Monitoring and adjustment. It also features 14 case studies and an array of best practices. The 152-page report Adapting to Climate Change is available here.

Paper: Ross Sea is not technically an MPA

In October 2016, the member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed to designate a 1.55 million-km2 MPA in the remote Ross Sea following years of intergovernmental negotiations. Taking effect on 1 December 2017, the Ross Sea MPA will automatically expire in 35 years (the year 2052) at which point it will be up for renegotiation.

A new paper states that in accordance with IUCN’s guidelines for applying protected area categories to MPAs, the Ross Sea area – due to its temporary protected status – should not technically be considered an MPA. The IUCN guidelines consider protected areas to be sites managed “to achieve the long-term conservation of nature” – in other words, protected in perpetuity rather than as a short-term or temporary management strategy. The paper “Correct application of the IUCN protected area management categories to the CCAMLR Convention Area” was co-authored by Rob Nicoll of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition and Jon Day of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

MPA Science Corner

Recent open-access articles on MPA-related science and policy

Article: An adaptable toolkit to assess commercial fishery costs and benefits related to marine protected area network design”, F1000Research 4, 1234, Version 2 (2017)

Finding: In modeling MPA networks as a fisheries management tool, the networks that both protected the habitat of the target species (Atlantic cod) and were spatially optimized to improve population connectivity were the most profitable for the fishing industry. The higher profits were achieved primarily by reducing the distance travelled for fishing and reducing the probability of a moratorium event (i.e., a fishery closure triggered when fish populations become too low).

Article:Navigating the seascape of ocean management: waypoints on the voyage toward sustainable use”, OpenChannels (2017)

Finding: This 56-page paper provides a history of ocean management, its conceptual foundation, frameworks for modern management, and examples of its application at different scales, including the important role of MPAs.

Article:Size, age, and habitat determine effectiveness of Palau’s Marine Protected Areas”, PLOS ONE 12, e0174787 (2017)

Finding: This study of Palau’s MPA network found no-take MPAs had, on average, nearly twice the biomass of target fishes — and five-fold greater biomass of piscivorous (fish-eating) fishes — compared to nearby unprotected areas. The most important determinants of no-take MPA success in increasing fish biomass were MPA size and years of protection.

For a free, weekly list of the latest publications on ocean planning and management, including MPAs, subscribe to the OpenChannels Literature Update here.

From the MPA News Vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: March-April 2012

  • The MPA Math: How to Reach the 10% Target for Global MPA Coverage
  • MPA Perspective: Key Lessons Learned in the Management of MPAs and Marine Natural Resources

Ten years ago: April 2007

  • UK Launches Proposals to Plan Nation’s Waters, Create Network of MPAs
  • MPA Perspective: Developing Capacity-Building Programs to Meet the Needs of Regional MPAs

Fifteen years ago: April 2002

  • Stretching Your MPA Budget: How to Do More with Less Funding
  • Improving Applications of Science in MPA Design and Management

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