Scotland designates 30 new MPAs
In July, Scotland announced its designation of 30 new marine protected areas. The spate of designations is aimed at protecting a range of habitats and species while allowing sustainable use of the sea where possible, including fishing. All together, the new MPAs cover 12% of Scotland’s waters, and include seamounts, cold water coral reefs, and other habitats.
Fisheries management measures for the 30 sites will be developed over the next two years. In the meantime, three fishing associations – the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, the Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation, and the Western Isles Fisherman’s Association – have announced their own voluntary conservation measures for portions of three of the new MPAs. The voluntary measures limit the use of certain gear types, and focus on features requiring recovery. The voluntary measures will be replaced by statutory provisions as part of the eventual management implementation program.
Information on the 30 new MPAs is at http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-protection-for-Scotland-s-seas-f1e.aspx.
The voluntary measures implemented by the three fishing associations are described at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/marine-environment/mpanetwork/MPAMGT/Voluntary.
In US, process to nominate national marine sanctuaries becomes community-based
In response to public requests for new national MPAs from communities around the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced a revised site-nomination process for the National Marine Sanctuary Program. In addition to reactivating site nominations in general (a process deactivated since 1995), the new process gives a voice to communities that want to provide long-term protection for their preferred marine places.
The new Sanctuary Nomination Process, unlike its predecessor the Site Evaluation List (SEL), focuses on a bottom-up approach to consideration of national marine sanctuaries. With the SEL, NOAA and appointed science panels were responsible for identification of potential sites – a top-down process. In contrast, the Sanctuary Nomination Process relies on diverse community interests coming together around the common goal of a new MPA. The new nomination process will result in an inventory of areas NOAA will then consider for national marine sanctuary designation, taking into account input and support from various interests and organizations, as well as the proposed area’s national significance and other factors.
Journal issue on advancing governance of areas beyond national jurisdiction
A new issue of the journal Marine Policy focuses on the improved protection and sustainable use of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (the high seas). Containing 14 articles, it highlights the current state of affairs in high seas governance, gaps, and ways forward.
The papers are intended to contribute to ongoing discussions at the UN on how biodiversity on the high seas should be better protected. The special issue puts forward options ranging from regional initiatives, better global institutional cooperation, and the establishment of integrated marine reporting and indicators through the UN’s sustainable development goals. Also discussed are medium- and long-term solutions such as the establishment of overarching legal principles for high seas governance, and the development of a comprehensive new legal agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The articles are published as part of Marine Policy Vol. 49, at www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0308597X/49.
Two publications on Caribbean: one on decline of coral reefs, one on managing for resilience
Two new reports examine the status of the Caribbean marine ecosystem:
Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012 shows a dramatic reduction in the region’s coral cover: more than 50% has been lost since the 1970s. The report concludes that while climate change has been a factor, well-managed reefs have bounced back, suggesting that climate change is not the main determinant of current Caribbean coral health. According to the authors, various management actions (e.g., restoring parrotfish populations, protecting sites against overfishing, controlling excessive tourism) could help more reefs recover and make them more resilient to future climate change impacts. Published by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, IUCN, and the UN Environment Programme, the report is available at www.icriforum.org/caribbeanreport.
Towards Reef Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods: a Handbook for Caribbean Reef Managers provides managers with tools, information, and recommendations on managing coral reef ecosystems. With chapters on climate change, fisheries management, ecosystem services, livelihoods, and more, the report breaks down each chapter into a number of smaller, stand-alone “briefs”. The guidebook is available at www.force-project.eu/node/252.
New report on integrating people into MPA planning and management
A new publication from WWF South Africa provides guidelines on how MPA practitioners can apply a more “people-centered” approach to planning and management, recognizing that long-term MPA success is often linked to stakeholder satisfaction. Based on the findings of a three-year-long project, the publication highlights the importance of considering issues such as human values, aspirations, lifestyles, cultural heritage, livelihoods, local economic activities, and institutional arrangements in the development of MPAs and their management strategies. The report Guidelines for Integrating Human Dimensions into MPA Planning and Management is available at www.wwf.org.za/media_room/publications/?11401/People-centric-guidelines-for-MPA-management.
Gauging the protection of US state waters
In its second annual ranking of US states and territories by how well they protect their coastal waters in no-take zones, Marine Conservation Institute finds most states and territories are failing to safeguard the nation’s marine life, seafood, and coasts. The front-running state, California, protects just 5% of its waters in no-take zones. In contrast, 16 states don’t have any no-take areas.
Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute, says, “We rely on our oceans for so many things including food, to absorb carbon dioxide in the air, economic gains, and more. It is ludicrous to treat the oceans as if they are an endless resource that we can continue to harm at will.” Called SeaStates 2014: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters, the publication is available at http://seastates.us.
‘MPA Campaign Tracker’ shows MPA planning campaigns worldwide
A new online tool called MPA Campaign Tracker allows viewers to explore and track the progress of MPA campaigns and initiatives worldwide. Integrated in MPAtlas.org, MPA Campaign Tracker currently shows more than 80 MPA campaigns underway, and allows analysis of MPA coverage and protection levels by country and habitat. The tracker was produced by Marine Conservation Institute, which encourages other organizations in the ocean conservation community to add their campaigns to the tool. It is available at www.mpatlas.org/campaign.
Study: MPAs can alleviate poverty…until funding ends for the MPAs
A new study indicates that MPAs can help to reduce poverty, but that this effect is dependent on the MPAs being funded adequately. Published in the journal Global Environmental Change, the research focuses on Indonesian MPAs that were designated with dual goals – conservation and poverty reduction. The MPAs contributed to alleviating poverty during their implementation periods, which were typically five years in length and funded by international donor institutions. But when donor assistance for the MPAs dried up, so did the poverty alleviation and conservation. Lead author Georgina Gurney of James Cook University says, “This finding questions the efficiency of the short-term approach taken in many international donor-assisted protected area projects. These projects often expect that project activities will be sustained and related benefits will continue to accumulate after external support is terminated.”
A link to the study, “Poverty and protected areas: An evaluation of a marine integrated conservation and development project in Indonesia”, is at http://jamescook.academia.edu/GeorginaGurney.