The net export of adults (spillover) is an important though contentious benefit of marine protected areas (MPAs). Controversy over spillover often exists because it is difficult to discern empirically. In addition, of those studies that have provided empirical evidence, nearly all are from shallow reef ecosystems. Here we examined 2 deepwater MPAs in the main Hawaiian Islands, established to benefit a complex of species called the ‘Deep 7.’ To study these fishes, we used baited cameras and commercial fishery data. Relative abundance, fish size, and species richness observed using camera data declined with distance from MPAs, signifying that species had begun to spill over the MPA boundaries into fishing grounds. Further, temporal analyses of these spatial trends indicated that they did not always exist but developed in the fifth and sixth years of sampling. Changes in fish size over time supported these results, with asymptotes in fish size seen inside and increases seen outside MPAs in the fifth and sixth years of sampling. Displaced fishing effort may have also caused initial declines in Etelis coruscans size and catch data that increased in later years. Further, low sample sizes and public announcements prior to sampling in Year 8 may have contributed to the decline in E. carbunculus sizes inside, and spatial trends outside, an MPA that were no longer significant in Year 8. Identifying the ability and time span for an MPA to begin to benefit a fishery and how quickly fishing may remove those benefits is crucial to resolving debates regarding the use of MPAs in fisheries management.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Most of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Philippines are small-sized and community-based, and their contribution to the conservation efforts have been usually overlooked.
This paper will present the results of the biological assessment study conducted in three community-based MPAs in Southern Iloilo, Philippines. Each MPA has a 2-ha no-take zone and this size is way below the recommended optimal size of 10–100 km2. Results show that fish biomass showed an overall increase of about 1–5 times. This is attributed to both an increase in abundance and in fish size. Fish in this survey conducted in 2013 were about 2.3–3.3 times the size of fish in the 2007 baseline data. Macroepifaunal abundance increased 2 to 8 times across the three MPA sites. However, live hard coral cover showed a parallel ∼40% decrease across all sites, which can be attributed to several factors.
The conservation goals of these MPAs have been attained. However, the results of biological assessments still need to be correlated with a study on the socioeconomic impact of the MPAs in the community to be able to arrive at good management decisions.
The 2015 Conservative Party Manifesto committed to “complete the network of [Marine Conservation Zones] MCZs”. Yet only 50 MCZs have been designated so far—well short of the 127 sites originally recommended by the regional projects in 2011. To fulfill this commitment, the third tranche of MCZs must be considerably larger and more ambitious than the previous two. The delay is unacceptable and we call on the Government to put in place this final piece of the MPA jigsaw as soon as possible.
Without effective management, surveillance and monitoring our MPAs are just lines on a map. Once a site is designated then its status as a MPA should be made the primary consideration for management and decision-making. The Government must act to protect MPAs properly by implementing a robust and well-coordinated management strategy. The Government should also consider investing in aerial and seaborne drones. We are shocked and disappointed by the Government’s decision to exclude reference areas from the third tranche of MCZs. Without reference areas the Government will be unable to properly assess how well the MPA network is performing.
The level of ambition shown by the FCO in designating MPAs in the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) has vastly exceeded ambitions in domestic waters - due in part to the very different circumstances. British seabirds off the Chagos Islands are better protected than they would be flying off Cornwall. However, many of the management problems experienced in domestic waters have been replicated in the UKOTs. The Government must now take action to ensure these sites are effectively resourced and managed.
The Government’s communications strategy in both the UK and the UKOTs is still ineffective and unsatisfactory, this is despite our predecessor Committee raising this as a concern in 2014. The lack of progress on this issue is self-defeating, as poor communication continues to make the process of designation and enforcement unnecessarily contentious.
As human impacts cause ecosystem-wide changes in the oceans, the need to protect and restore marine resources has led to increasing calls for and establishment of marine reserves. Scientific information about marine reserves has multiplied over the last decade, providing useful knowledge about this tool for resource users, managers, policy makers, and the general public. This information must be conveyed to nonscientists in a nontechnical, credible, and neutral format, but most scientists are not trained to communicate in this style or to develop effective strategies for sharing their scientific knowledge. Here, we present a case study from California, in which communicating scientific information during the process to establish marine reserves in the Channel Islands and along the California mainland coast expanded into an international communication effort. We discuss how to develop a strategy for communicating marine reserve science to diverse audiences and highlight the influence that effective science communication can have in discussions about marine management.
Drawing on seventy-four interviews, this article analyzes the rising importance since the mid-2000s of large marine protected areas (MPAs) as a policy for managing ocean conservation. Governments have initiated eighteen large MPAs (over 200,000 km2) since 2006, reflecting the emergence of a new large MPA norm in marine conservation. This norm, we argue, emerged because of the success of a few transnational nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in identifying politically feasible large MPAs, and then forming ad hoc domestic coalitions to lobby for them. This explanation is in contrast to most of the literature on how and why norms diffuse internationally, as well as existing explanations for the rise of large MPAs, both of which emphasize the importance of cohesive coalitions of transnational NGOs lobbying in multilateral venues. This bottom-up, international norm diffusion strategy has made large MPAs a viable policy option, one national jurisdiction at a time. For instance, this strategy was a critical element in convincing the UK to create the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve (835,000 km2) in 2015. Given the politics underlying the formation of large MPAs, where political gains have been high, and corporate and societal resistance relatively low, the creation of more large MPAs would seem likely, as occurred in 2016 when the UK announced it would designate three more large MPAs by 2020, totalling over 1.4 million km2. Growing support for large MPAs as a conservation strategy could also embolden states to establish large MPAs in more politically and economically contested waters, including on the Pacific high seas.
Spatial properties of landscapes modify the abundance and diversity of most animal assemblages in ways that need to be understood to plan and implement conservation initiatives, and evaluate their effectiveness. Seascape context (i.e. the spatial arrangement of ecosystems) mediates the effects of reserves on fish abundance, species richness and ecological processes in shallow coral reef and mangrove ecosystems; however, it is unclear whether this interaction exerts similar effects on reserves in other ecosystems. This study used baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) to test for combined effects of seascape context and reserves on fish abundance in seagrass meadows in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. We demonstrate that the composition of harvested fishes in seagrass meadows was different in reserves and fished areas. Specifically, in reserves there was enhanced abundance of exploited rabbitfish Siganus fuscescens, a functionally important herbivore in local seagrass meadows. These reserve effects are not influenced by the area of seagrass meadows or seascape context they occur in (i.e. their spatial proximity to other ecosystems or the ocean). However, seascape context was directly correlated with the spatial distribution of harvested rabbitfish and emperors Lethrinus spp., which were more abundant in seagrass meadows nearer to the open ocean. Our results show that reserves and seascape context can shape spatial patterns in the abundance of harvested fishes in seagrass meadows, and that these effects may be operating on different components of fish assemblages. Further empirical data on how and where seascape features modify reserve performance are critical for effective conservation in seagrass and related ecosystems.
This report summarizes the results of a rapid vulnerability assessment (July 2016) and adaptation strategy planning (September 2016) workshops for 10 focal resources in the Territory and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by engaging with stakeholders, including village leaders, community members, resource managers, local government representatives, and business owners that rely on the resources with the goal of increasing climate resilience in the region.
Changes imposed to nature by human activities and related impacts on all environmental matrices have become a critical issue. Gradually, humans began to perceive and face the magnitude of the impact of human economy on natural ecosystems and the implications for human well-being. From this perception, the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services arose, highlighting the relationships between natural and human economy while boosting environmental conservation and management. In this framework, the definition and application of metrics and models capable of accounting for natural capital value are much needed. This is even more important when a protection regime is established (such as in the case of marine protected areas) to evaluate the efficacy of undertaken conservation measures. In this study, a biophysical and trophodynamic environmental accounting model was developed to assess the value of natural capital in marine protected areas. The model of natural capital assessment is articulated in three main steps: 1) trophodynamic analysis, providing an estimate of the primary productivity used to support the benthic trophic web within the study area, 2) biophysical accounting, providing an estimate of the biophysical value of natural capital by means of emergy accounting, and 3) monetary conversion, expressing the biophysical value of natural capital into monetary units. This conversion does not change the biophysical feature of the assessment, but instead it has the merit of allowing an easier understanding and effective communication of the ecological value of natural capital in socio-economic contexts.
Nature reserves are created to conserve biodiversity and restore populations of harvested species, but it is not clear whether this strategy is successful in all ecosystems. Reserves are gazetted in estuaries to offset impacts from burgeoning human populations, however, coastal conservation cannot be optimized because their effectiveness is rarely evaluated. We surveyed 220 sites in 22 estuaries in the Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland, Australia, including all six current estuarine marine reserves within the park. Fishes were surveyed using one hour deployments of baited remote underwater video stations twice at each site over consecutive days. We show that although the estuarine reserves in Moreton Bay contain a significantly different fish community, they fail to enhance the abundance of harvested fish species. We posit that performance is limited because reserves protect unique spatial features, or conserve narrow estuaries with weak connections to mangrove habitats and the open sea. Consequently, reserves as currently positioned protect only a subset of potential environmental conditions present for fish within the region, and potentially support residual estuarine habitats (i.e. expansive intertidal flats or shallow creeks) which are not particularly significant to either fish or fishers. We argue that reserve effectiveness can be improved by conserving deeper estuaries, with diverse habitats for fish and strong connections to the open sea. Without incorporating these critical spatial considerations into estuarine reserve design, estuarine reserves are doomed to fail.
Managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) are constantly challenged to encourage positive user behaviour to minimise impacts on marine ecosystems while allowing recreational use. Yet, some marine users continue to act in ways that diminish conservation values of the area. Drawing on social psychological theories, this paper presents a case for informed behaviour change strategies to reduce problem behaviours in MPAs and contribute to conservation efforts. Social psychological drivers of behaviour are explained and applied to an MPA context to demonstrate how they can inform strategies for predicting and changing behaviour using persuasive communication. As behavioural and persuasive communication theories are seldom invoked and almost never rigorously applied to MPAs, the review offers new theoretical and practical insights into how they can assist MPA management to target and shift specific behaviours that ultimately support marine park values.