A new guidebook summarizing key points in building MPA networks was released in April at the summit meeting of the marine program of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA-Marine), a gathering that was previewed in the April 2007 MPA News. The 16-page guide “Establishing Marine Protected Area Networks: Making It Happen” offers a concise synopsis of factors necessary for effective network design, including ecological criteria, best practices for planning, and other considerations. It is intended to show briefly how to transform policy aspirations into practical action, and is not meant to be exhaustive. A full technical report to flesh out the summary report’s framework is expected to be released later in 2007. The summary report is available in PDF format at http://www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/biome/marine/mpanetworks/nsmail.pdf.

The WCPA-Marine Summit also offered glimpses of tools that could prove useful to global MPA management in years to come:

  • The first edition of a report on the global state of MPAs, dubbed The Wet List, is targeted for release by WCPA-Marine in 2008. The Wet Listaims to provide annually updated information on MPAs by region, focusing attention on successes and challenges in marine area-based conservation.
  • A WCPA-Marine Plan of Action will compile the summit’s discussions and background documents to form a comprehensive set of priorities and future directions for MPA management worldwide, including how WCPA-Marine may assist regional, national, and site-level practitioners. It is set for release in three languages in late 2007.

The Summit, held in Washington, DC (USA), involved 50 marine conservation experts drawn from government, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and academia around the world. Attendees produced a “Call for Action” document urging policy makers to accelerate the pace of marine protection to meet the goal of establishing national and high-seas MPA networks by 2012 – a target set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 (MPA News 4:3).

For more information on the WCPA-Marine Summit, including the Call for Action (in French and English), go to http://groups.google.com/group/wcpamarine-summit/web.