Public consultation ends 31 March on downsized plan for English MPAs

A proposal announced by UK Environment Minister Richard Benyon last December to designate a significantly smaller system of MPAs in English waters than previously recommended is open for public consultation through 31 March.

From 2009-2011, UK agencies oversaw a public process to design a national MPA system, featuring several rounds of multistakeholder consultation. The process resulted in a recommendation to designate a system of 127 MPAs throughout English waters. That recommendation is available here:

However, Benyon discarded most of that plan, paring the proposed system down to just 31 of the sites. He also changed the plan so that none of the sites would be no-take. Benyon has defended the downsizing in an editorial in the Guardian newspaper:

Input on Benyon’s proposal can be submitted at

New protective measures announced for 1 million-km2 MPA in south Atlantic

In January 2013 the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, a remote UK territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean, announced additional protective measures for its existing MPA. The MPA, designated in February 2012, covers more than 1 million km2, accounting for most of the EEZ of the islands (

The new measures include:

  • A seasonal closure of the fishery for Antarctic krill to avoid competition with krill-eating predators (particularly penguins and fur seals);
  • Pelagic no-take zones extending 12 nm from each of the South Sandwich Islands, protecting 18,042 km2, including feeding areas for penguins;
  • A ban on all bottom fishing deeper than 2250 m, which covers 920,000 km2; and
  • Additional closed areas, covering 12,662 km2, to protect sensitive benthic fauna and provide refuges for Patagonian toothfish.

Fishing shallower than 700 m was already prohibited in the MPA. With the new restrictions, this means that only 83,500 km2 (8%) of the MPA’s seafloor is available for bottom fishing. Bottom trawling was already banned throughout the MPA. The Government’s announcement of the new measures is at

Timor-Leste designates first no-take zones

In February, the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) designated its first no-take zones: seven sites totaling 16.47 km2 within the country’s Nino Konis Santana National Park. The goal of the new no-take areas is to help replenish local fish stocks and protect coral habitats. The zones will be enforced through a co-management approach involving local, district and national fisheries authorities.

A 2012 marine survey of Timor-Leste’s coastal waters by Conservation International found that the country’s coral reefs were among the healthiest and most diverse in the world, and also exhibited no signs of past coral bleaching. The report from that rapid assessment is at

Special issue of Marine Policy on MPA governance

A forthcoming special issue of Marine Policy journal will focus on marine protected area governance, with 15 case studies drawn from around the world. Although the issue has not yet been published, the articles are already available online at For non-subscribers to the journal, the abstracts and figures in each article are viewable for free.

Guide on developing MPA business plans

A relatively new guide is available on how to develop simple business plans for MPAs. Published in late 2012 by RAMPAO (the regional MPA network for West Africa;, the 61-page booklet walks readers through the purpose of a business plan for MPAs and the main steps in creating one.

According to the guide, a business plan for protected areas has four objectives:

  • To determine long-term financial needs;
  • To present existing funding sources;
  • To identify other possible funding; and
  • To identify and set up Payments for Ecosystem Services programs.

The “Guide for Preparing Simplified Business Plans for Protected Areas” is available at

Research agenda announced for large MPAs

Big Ocean, the network of managers and partners of existing and proposed large-scale MPAs, has released its first research agenda, highlighting the unique scientific needs and challenges of its member sites. The agenda is intended to set research priorities and provide a framework for collaborative research among Big Ocean sites, as well as other large MPAs.

The agenda identifies three main research themes:

  • Biological and ecological characterization (what natural resources are present at the sites);
  • Biological, physical and anthropogenic connectivity (how the resources are connected to each other, as well as to external sources); and
  • Monitoring of temporal trends, including patterns caused by both anthropogenic sources and natural variability (how the resources change over time).

Big Ocean member sites comprise seven MPAs that collectively encompass 3.2 million km2 of ocean. For more information and to view the research agenda, go to

Video series provides instruction on fishery management and MPAs

A new five-part video education series uses animation and interviews to explain concepts in marine ecology, fishery management, and marine protected areas. Co-developed by James Cook University Senior Lecturer Simon Foale and marine communication consultant Russell Kelley, the Fish and People series was originally developed for use in high school-level classes in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Each module is supported by a lesson plan for teachers. The videos are at

Marine World Heritage releases new film

In February the UNESCO Marine World Heritage Programme released a short film profiling its work. The eight-minute film The Crown Jewels of the Ocean premiered at a star-studded gala in Paris, attended by British actor Clive Owen and French actor Jacques Perrin. Perrin also narrates the film, which is at