Large meteorite lands in MPA

Add this to the tasks of an MPA manager: What do you do when a large meteorite lands in your MPA? The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS), off the Pacific coast of the US, asked that question in March 2018 when a two-ton space rock flew into Earth’s atmosphere, became a giant fireball, broke up into countless pieces, and crashed into the MPA’s waters. The impact was detected on seismometers nearly 3000 km away.

In what is believed to have been the world’s first hunt for a meteorite at sea, scientists from OCNMS and other institutions recovered fragments of the rock in July 2018. Using a remotely operated vehicle, the expedition found meteorite debris 25 km offshore, lodged in the seafloor’s mud and sand in waters 100 meters deep. A press release is here and media coverage is here.

Belize Barrier Reef removed from World Heritage in Danger list

In June, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s second largest coral reef system after the Great Barrier Reef – was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The decision was taken at UNESCO’s annual World Heritage Committee meeting and followed the advice of IUCN. For nearly 10 years, the Belize Barrier Reef has faced threats from potential oil exploration and unsustainable tourism development. But Belize’s announcement of a ban on oil drilling across its marine territory, as well as reinforcement of legal protections against development in its mangroves, led to the positive upgrade by UNESCO. An IUCN press release is here and UNESCO’s announcement is here.

Canada to designate 1000-km2 MPA

The government of Canada has announced its intent to designate a 1000-km2 MPA within the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in eastern Canada. The proposed Banc-des-Américains (American Bank) Marine Protected Area has been an Area of Interest under Canada’s Oceans Law since 2011. The MPA designation proposal underwent a 30-day public consultation process in June-July 2018 and the MPA is expected to become an official MPA in 2018.

The site provides important habitat for North Atlantic right whales, blue whales, leatherback turtles, and several commercially important species of fish and crustaceans. The proposed regulations for the MPA would establish two management zones. Commercial and recreational fisheries would be prohibited in Zone 1, although fishing by indigenous groups for food, social, and ceremonial purposes would be permitted. In Zone 2, commercial trap, longline, and hand-line fishing would be allowed as long as they are not for certain forage fish species. A backgrounder on the proposed MPA is here. A press release by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), which campaigned for the MPA for several years, is here.

Majority of krill fishing industry agrees to closures in Antarctic coastal waters

An association of companies that together represent 85% of the Antarctic krill fishery has voluntarily agreed to stop fishing in waters around the Antarctic Peninsula where penguin colonies are present. The voluntary closures will cover roughly 74,000 km2 and will become permanent in 2020.

The commitment was made by the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting (ARK), which has member companies from Norway, Chile, South Korea, and China. One of the companies, Aker BioMarine, said in a statement, “Through our commitment we are showing that it is possible for no-fish zones and sustainable fisheries to co-exist. Our intention with this commitment is to support [the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources]’s work on establishing a network of large-scale science-based marine protected areas in the Antarctic.” An ARK press release is here. A Greenpeace press release is here.

Insurance industry launches commitment to protect World Heritage Sites

UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) – a collaborative initiative between the United Nations and the insurance industry – has launched the first-ever global insurance industry statement of commitment to protect the outstanding universal value of World Heritage Sites. The statement commits signatories to take various actions to prevent or reduce the risk of insuring and investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage World Heritage Sites.

Early signatories to the statement include Swiss Re, Peak Re, National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines, Interamerican, La Banque Postale, Risk Management Solutions, Certified Sustainable Insurance Partners, Microinsurance Network, Philippine Insurers & Reinsurers Association, Earth Security Group, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

“The industry’s risk management services, insurance solutions, and investments are powerful ways to tackle increasing economic, social, and environmental challenges,” said Butch Bacani, who leads the PSI at UN Environment. “With this global commitment, insurers are speaking with a united voice to protect the priceless and irreplaceable assets that make up our world heritage for present and future generations.” The statement was launched in partnership with WWF and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. UNESCO’s announcement is here.

MPA readings from around the web

  • Study: Do Coral Reef Reserves Protect Ocean Life? Yes, But…. (Oceans Deeply) – Examining whether it’s better to preserve marine areas that are still pristine or those that need the most protection. Click here
  • Blue finance: Why marine PPPs could be a win-win-win (Euromoney) – How an MPA in the Dominican Republic, the Southeast Reef Marine Sanctuary, might show how protected areas can pay for themselves. Click here
  • Bold initiative aims to protect coral reefs in the Dominican Republic (Mongabay) – Another article on the Dominican Republic’s Southeast Reef Marine Sanctuary. Click here
  • Malaysia’s Conservation Experiment: One marine park in Malaysia is trying to find a collaborative solution to Southeast Asia’s environmental woes (The Diplomat) – Detailing challenges facing Tun Mustapha, Malaysia’s largest MPA, and its surrounding communities. Click here
  • The importance of gender equality in conservation (IUCN Save Our Species) – An interview with IUCN’s Global Gender Office. Click here
  • What Does This Deep-Sea Expedition Mean for the Indigenous Haida Nation? (Forbes) – How a deep-sea expedition of a Canadian MPA was co-managed by the indigenous Haida Nation, the Canadian government, and others. Click here
  • Intelligent drones crack down on illegal fishing in African waters (UN Environment) – How a former Microsoft executive is using drones and artificial intelligence to track illegal fishers in West Africa. Click here

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: July-August 2013

  • The Reverse Fishing License Mechanism for Kiribati’s Phoenix Islands Protected Area: An Experiment in MPA Financing
  • CCAMLR Fails to Make Progress in Establishing Antarctic MPAs

Ten years ago: July 2008

  • What Does Your MPA Cost?: Considering the Various Costs of MPAs to Stakeholders and Management
  • MPA Perspective: The Outer Continental Shelf – Opportunities for Marine Environmental Protection

Fifteen years ago: July 2003

  • Using Locals in Enforcement, Some MPA Managers See Improved Compliance as a Result
  • MPA Perspective: Bringing in the Cash – A Short Guide to Fundraising

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