Volcano fills in MPA with lava

A small, inshore, no-take MPA in the US state of Hawai‘i has been covered up by lava from ongoing volcanic eruptions on the archipelago’s Big Island. The 0.2-km2 Wai’opae Tidepools Marine Life Conservation District was designated in 2003, and was popular with snorkelers and swimmers. Now it is covered by lava rock. Hundreds of nearby homes were also destroyed by the lava flow.

For before/after satellite photos of the MPA, click MPAtlas’s coverage here. For helicopter footage of the lava flow meeting the sea, click here.

Malta expands MPA coverage

The percentage of Malta’s waters in MPAs is rising to 35% following designation of eight more MPAs by the Maltese government, according to press reports. The new sites increase the island nation’s MPA coverage from 3487 km2 to 4138 km2. The new MPAs feature coral reefs, caves, and other important seabed habitats.

UK opens consultation on another tranche of Marine Conservation Zones to come

The UK government has launched a public consultation on creating 41 new Marine Conservation Zones across the nation’s waters. The consultation is lasting six weeks until 20 July. If approved, the new sites will be designated within 12 months after that.

Fifty Marine Conservation Zones have already been designated around England as part of the UK’s Blue Belt programme, including a first tranche of 27 zones designated in 2013, and a second tranche of 23 sites in 2016. The 41 sites under consultation, as well as additional protections for 12 existing sites, are considered the third and final tranche. To participate in the consultation, click here.

Article on Chile’s ongoing battle involving penguins and an iron mine development

For those of you who attended the Fourth International Marine Protected Areas Congress in La Serena, Chile, last September – and particularly if you went on the field trip to Humboldt National Penguin Reserve ahead of the conference – here is an update on the political battle over whether to develop a giant new iron mine and new port near the protected area. At IMPAC4, we learned that the Chilean president at the time, Michelle Bachelet, had just rejected the mine development. But that rejection was overturned by a court earlier this year and the new national government appears more open to the concept.

New Zealand court blocks 1000-home development from being built next to MPA

Citing the potential impact on waterfowl and the greater marine environment, a court in New Zealand has blocked approval of a high-density, 1000-home development that would have been built next to an existing MPA, the Long Bay-Okura Estuary Marine Reserve. The ruling was by the nation’s Environment Court, which adjudicates on potential effects of planning applications under New Zealand’s Resource Management Act. Analyses of the ruling, as well as comments on continuing challenges facing the MPA (i.e., sedimentation from other coastal developments), are available here, here, and here.

Study: Great Barrier Reef has had five major reef-death events in past 30,000 years

A recent study by a large international team of researchers takes a long-term view of the health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), using geological records to see how the reef has responded to environmental changes over the past 30 thousand years. Their findings:

  • Reefs migrated seaward in times of lower sea level
  • Reefs migrated landward as the shelf flooded and ocean temperatures increased
  • Growth was interrupted by five reef-death events, caused by reef exposure above water or by sea-level rise outpacing reef growth

The authors conclude, “As an ecosystem, the GBR has been more resilient to past sea-level and temperature fluctuations than previously thought.” Granted, the resilience and re-establishment can take hundreds or thousands of years to occur. The paper “Response of the Great Barrier Reef to sea-level and environmental changes over the past 30,000 years” is available here. A news article on it in Science magazine is here.

Returning to the present, the latest annual report from the reef monitoring program for the GBR notes that coral cover has continued to decline due to the cumulative impacts of multiple, severe disturbances over the past four years. These disturbances include coral bleaching, cyclones, and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. The monitoring program has been going for 20 years.

Marseille to host World Conservation Congress in 2020

IUCN has announced that Marseille, France, will host the next World Conservation Congress. It will occur 11-19 June 2020. The last IUCN World Conservation Congress was held in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, US, in 2016 and was attended by 10,000 participants. At the 2016 Congress, IUCN members voted in favor of a resolution calling on governments to protect 30% of their waters in MPAs by 2030.

Winners announced for Chagos stamp competition

The British Indian Ocean Territory Administration, which oversees the Chagos archipelago, has announced the winners of its contest for kids to design an official postage stamp for the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The design theme was “Why are coral reefs and oceans important?” Four winners were chosen. The 640,000-km2 Chagos MPA, in which commercial fishing is off-limits, is inside BIOT waters.

From the MPA News vault

Features and news items from yesteryear

Five years ago: May-June 2013

  • South Africa Designates 180,000-km2 MPA; Will Be Enforced Jointly with Commercial Fishing Industry
  • LMMA Lessons: Where, and how big, should a no-take area be?

Ten years ago: June 2008

  • De Facto MPAs: How They Can Assist Conservation and Resource Management
  • MPA Tip: How to Approach Donors to Establish an Endowment

Fifteen years ago: June 2003

  • “Naturalness” and MPAs: Scientists Discuss Protection for Last Undisturbed Ocean Sites
  • MPA Perspective: The Art of Communicating MPA Science

For these and all other issues of MPA News, go to https://mpanews.openchannels.org/mpanews/archives