Contest: “Most Beautiful Office”

MPA News’ “Most Beautiful Office” contest continues! Some MPA managers, planners, and conservationists work in relatively plain office buildings – but others work in beachfront villas, or on-the-water ranger stations, or in an actual royal castle. Do you work in a beautiful office? If so, please send us a photo! We will print entries in MPA News and invite readers to vote in our February 2018 issue. The winner will be named “Most Beautiful MPA Office in the World” and receive a limited-edition MPA News tote bag.

Please send your entry to Good luck!

Clarification to East Antarctica article

The November 2017 issue of MPA News reported on how a proposal for an East Antarctic system of MPAs fell short of international consensus at the recent meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The article in MPA News has been revised to clarify the current status of fishing regulations in the proposed MPA area.

Nations agree to ban commercial fishing in central Arctic for 16 years, allowing time to study increasingly ice-free ecosystem

At a meeting in November, delegates from Canada, China, Denmark, the EU, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and the US agreed to a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in a 2.8-million-km2 area of high seas in the central Arctic Ocean. Although no commercial fishing has occurred there historically, the region’s increasingly ice-free status in summer months is making future fishing a likely proposition. The agreement culminated two years of negotiations.

During the 16-year moratorium, the agreement will establish and operate a joint research program to study the area’s ecosystem and determine whether fish stocks there could be harvested sustainably. The agreement envisions the possibility that one or more new regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements may be established for this area in the future. A statement on the agreement is here. Media coverage is here and here.

Ross Sea MPA officially takes effect

The 1.55-million-km2 Ross Sea Marine Protected Area in Antarctica officially came into force on 1 December 2017. Designated in October 2016 by member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), it is one of the largest protected areas in the world, terrestrial or marine.

The Ross Sea’s protected area status is set to expire in 35 years – the year 2052 – at which point it will be up for renegotiation under CCAMLR. Approximately three-quarters of the MPA is closed to commercial fishing. The remaining quarter allows limited research fishing that is controlled by CCAMLR under advice from the Commission’s Scientific Committee. This MPA News article from last year detailed some of the challenging, multi-year negotiations that went into reaching international consensus on the Ross Sea MPA designation.

News from Great Barrier Reef: climate refuge program; larval reseeding for corals; interactive web tour

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has been in the news lately for a number of new research and education efforts. In brief:

  • In November, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation launched the first phase of a AU $14-million (US $10.6-million) program to establish a network of five climate change refuges within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in the next 10 years. Lady Elliot Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef will be the first new climate change “ark” included in the Reef Island Refuge Initiative.
  • A pioneering program to grow coral larvae in a lab then establish them on degraded reefs has shown promising results so far in small areas of the Great Barrier Reef. The “larval reseeding” program involves collecting vast quantities of coral eggs and sperm during mass spawning, using these to grow coral larvae, then delivering the larvae onto degraded reef patches in underwater mesh tents.
  • Television host and naturalist David Attenborough has created an online interactive web tour of the Great Barrier Reef through space and time – with video, audio, and much more.

US Interior Secretary releases recommendations to reopen large MPAs to commercial fishing

In early December, US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke officially released the recommendations he made to President Donald Trump to reopen three US marine national monuments to commercial fishing. The recommendations reflected those in a private memo he sent to Trump in October, which was leaked to the Washington Post and covered in MPA News.

Zinke recommends reopening the following MPAs to commercial fishing: the 12,720-km2 Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument; the 490,000-km2 Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument; and the 34,000-km2 Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. In addition, Zinke recommends revising (i.e., shrinking) the boundaries of the latter two MPAs.

How genetic information is being used to influence marine conservation and management

The current issue of Marine Ecosystems and Management, the sister newsletter of MPA News, features an article on how practitioners and researchers are using genetic science to improve marine conservation and management. The issue also has an article with advice for scientists on getting their research off the shelf and into policy, including by writing reports and briefs that influence decision-making.

Documentary arm of The Economist magazine is looking for MPA success stories

Following on its Ocean Series of films, The Economist magazine has been commissioned to make a documentary on MPAs to be screened at the World Ocean Summit in Mexico, 2018. The film will examine MPAs, how they can be effectively managed and enforced, and the arguments for 30% global MPA coverage.  

The project is looking for MPA success stories to include in the film. The catch is that filming needs to be done this coming January 2018 – so the timing is immediate. Please respond with any story ideas you may have by 16 December. The project is looking for:

  • MPAs that have been successful in terms of marine biodiversity and engaging local communities;
  • Marine science success stories or discoveries that have come about due to MPAs;
  • Scientific projects or expeditions that are happening in January 2018;
  • Examples of whether MPAs can help combat climate change;
  • Stories of MPAs empowering local communities that rely on the ocean for food;
  • Enforcement stories where MPAs have successfully cracked down on illegal activities; and
  • How MPAs are utilizing modern technology in their management.

More details are here. If you have a story that might be worth covering, email producer Katy Tooth of Economist Films by 16 December at

Call for MPA projects that could benefit from small-scale funding

The MPA Action Agenda is inviting applications from MPA projects that could use small-scale funding to address barriers that are impeding site designations. The results and outcomes of these “push projects” should be highly visible and demonstrate the measurable benefits of MPAs, in particular for food security and livelihoods of coastal communities. A push project should not be a stand-alone project, but rather relate to a larger strategic marine program. It should also have a relatively short timeline (maximum 1 year) and limited budget (EUR 10,000-20,000).

The application form, as well as more details on the call for applications, are here. There will be 4-5 winners chosen. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2018.

Open call for small projects involving Mediterranean MPAs

MedPAN, the network of MPA managers in the Mediterranean, has an open call for small projects that reinforce MPA management in the region. The rules for eligibility are here and the grant application form is here. The deadline for applications is 7 January 2018.

United Nations: MPAs can be a driver of sustainable development, not a limit on it

In its latest annual report on novel environmental challenges facing the planet, UN Environment profiles the important role of MPAs in securing benefits for sustainable development. The report FRONTIERS 2017 points out that MPAs offer some of the best options for maintaining or restoring the health of ocean and coastal ecosystems, particularly as part of a wider management system. And the ecological, social, and economic benefits from MPAs support many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to the report, governing the oceans in a sustainable way could see MPAs as a driver – not a limit – for the vital economic and social benefits that humans derive from the global ocean. The report also profiles the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance; nanomaterials; sand and dust storms; off-grid solar solutions; and environmental displacement.

Skeleton of large Steller’s sea cow discovered in Russian MPA

The 5-meter-long skeleton of a large Steller’s sea cow has been discovered and unearthed in Komandorsky Nature Reserve, a Russian MPA in the Commander Islands of the Bering Sea. The 10-ton specimen was discovered intact, except for its head missing, and will be displayed at the MPA’s visitor center, according to National Geographic magazine. Steller’s sea cows went extinct in the mid-1700s, less than 30 years after European explorers first encountered them. It is believed that the Komandorsky specimen is the largest found to date.

MPA News reported in 2004 on Komandorsky Nature Reserve, which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The article described how the MPA was balancing conservation and sustainable development.

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: November-December 2012

  • MPA News poll: What should we count as MPAs?
  • LMMA Lessons: Using a tok story session to share lessons on community-based management

Ten years ago: December 2007 – January 2008

  • What Should Be Done When MPAs Do Not Meet Their Goals?: Poll Reveals Range of Views
  • MPA Spotlight: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a World Heritage Site, Addresses Illegal Fishing and Seismic Exploration

Fifteen years ago: December 2002 – January 2003

  • Balancing Ecology and Economics: Lessons Learned from the Planning of a Marine Reserve Network in the Channel Islands (US)
  • MPA Perspective Conserving Ecological Integrity of Marine Reserves: ‘No-Take’ Is Not Necessarily ‘Fully Protected’

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