The objective of this issue of «Science for MPA Management» is to explore the process of the ecosystem approach adopted in 2008 by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive of the European Union. In this context, Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are identified as a key element in the implementation of monitoring that aims to report on the progress made towards the achievement of the Good Environmental Status of the Mediterranean. Their role must nevertheless be strengthened, with in particular a potential support from the MedPAN network to coordinate monitoring in MPAs on different components related to the EcAP process on a Mediterranean scale.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Fishing Reserves (FRs) are primarily designated for the enhancement of local fisheries and, secondarily, for biodiversity conservation. In Spain, FRs are considered marine protected areas (MPAs) and included in the country's MPA network. MPAs’ ecological effectiveness is linked to a number of legal, managerial and bio-physical factors. With the amount of MPA area rapidly rising and conservation funds largely stagnant or decreasing, rapid, cost-effective MPA assessment techniques are becoming increasingly useful to verify fulfillment of global conservation targets and ascertain potential conservation effectiveness. Here, a rapid MPA protection assessment framework and one MPA ecological effectiveness framework were applied to the Spanish Network of 10 FRs (FRN): the MaPAF and NEOLI frameworks. The FRN was moderately legally protected, with over 50.5% of its area having three or more overlapping legal designations, but only 3.8% of the FRN's area being no-take. All FRs had management plans and active surveillance. According to MaPAF, Columbretes FR was the most highly legally protected whereas Cabo de Palos was the FR with the greatest managerial effort. Both rank highest in protection. In contrast, Masía Blanca FR and Alborán FR were the least legally protected whereas Alborán FR and Graciosa FR were the least managerially protected FRs of the FRN and rank the lowest in protection, respectively. According to the NEOLI framework, Columbretes would also be the most effective FR whereas Masía Blanca FR would be the least ecologically effective. These results can help to spur and better allocate conservation efforts across the fastly growing Spanish MPA network.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) can serve as effective tools for the management and conservation of exploited marine species. The Gilbert Bay MPA in coastal Labrador was created to protect a genetically distinct population of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua); however, decreases in abundance continue to occur potentially due to exploitation outside the MPA. We developed a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel to identify Gilbert Bay cod in areas outside MPA boundaries where mixing with offshore cod occurs. In total, 361 individuals from Gilbert Bay, surrounding areas, and offshore were genotyped for 10,913 SNPs. Using FST rankings and guided regularized random forest, we selected 23 SNPs that together generate 100% accuracy in individual assignment and accurately estimate the proportion of Gilbert Bay cod in fishery samples from sites outside MPA boundaries: on average, fishery samples included 17.3% Gilbert Bay cod. Estimates of effective population size for the Gilbert Bay population ranged from 655 to 1,114. Our findings demonstrate the power of using genomic approaches for management of an exploited marine species and enhancing the design of MPAs.
Oceans and seas are adversely affected by a large number of anthropogenic pressures. The need to better integrate the policies of different sectors, which impact the oceans is generally seen. Different countries strive to implement a more integrated approach for the management and protection of their marine areas. Important tools which can support this process are marine spatial planning and marine protected areas. If a single administrative body is made responsible for the entire task of sustainable marine use and conservation, this could help to bundle responsibilities. Existing approaches often do not meet expectations. Reasons for this are diverse, ranging from insufficient governmental and scientific resources, lack of political will or a federal political system that complicates cooperation and coordination.
MPAs enhance some of the Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by coral reefs and clear, robust valuations of these impacts may help to improve stakeholder support and better inform decision-makers. Pursuant to this goal, Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBA) of MPAs in 2 different contexts were analysed: a community based MPA with low tourism pressure in Vanuatu, and a government managed MPA with relatively high tourism pressure, in Saint Martin. Assessments were made on six ES: fish biomass, scenic beauty, protection against coastal erosion, bequest and existence values, social capital and CO2sequestration, which were quantified via different approaches that included experimental fishery, surveys and benefit transfer. Total operating costs for each MPA were collected and the benefit-cost ratio and return on investment based on 25-year discounted projections computed. Sensitivity analyses were conducted on MPA impacts, and discount rates (5%, 7% and 10%). The investment indicators all showed positive results with the impact on the tourism ES being the largest estimated for all MPAs, highlighting the importance of this relationship. The study also demonstrated a relatively high sensitivity of the results to different levels of impacts on ES, which highlights the need for reducing scientific knowledge gaps.
In the last 15 years considerable progress has been made regarding the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the implementation of a worldwide MPA network, despite of great regional differences and the long way still to go to reach the targeted 10% coverage of world’s oceans by MPAs set by CBD for 2020 for all seas.
This article gives an overview of the latest developments within MPA networks, the state of play on global level, some examples stemming from Regional Sea Conventions and a national case study of the establishment of MPAs.
Most promising advances in global MPA establishment are the current “UN Prep Com-Process” that may lead to a stronger commitment of the United Nations within the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, possibly even more “fruitful”, the achievements of the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD has established a process to identify so-called “Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas” (EBSA) in the global oceans in 2008 to inform states and international institutions. In the meantime these efforts have covered a high percentage of the global ocean and a total number of 280 EBSAs could already be identified and globally agreed by 2017. These are situated both in international waters as well as waters under the jurisdiction of individual states. At the same time very promising MPA activities are conducted by a large number of nations and under several Regional Sea Conventions, one of which, the Helsinki-Convention for the Baltic Sea, has already met the 10% MPA-coverage target.
Human population growth since the mid-1900s has been accompanied by an unsustainable use of natural resources and a corresponding impact on terrestrial and marine biota. In response, most states have established protected areas as tools to decrease biodiversity loss, being Chile one of the signatories of international conservation agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 2010 Aichi Targets. This study reviews the Chilean protected areas that have been created to date, with an emphasis on the existence and effectiveness of management plans for all terrestrial and marine protected areas.
Effectiveness was individually evaluated using two filters: 1) the age of the management plan and 2) the first four steps of the Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (PAME) methodology recommended by the IUCN.
We show that 84 out of a total of 145 protected areas (PAs), and only five out of a total of 20 marine protected areas (MPAs), have management plans. Only 12% (N = 16) of PAs are effectively managed; while in the marine realm, no MPA has an effective plan.
Our results show the lack of both the effectiveness of and updates to the management plans for the vast majority of the national territory and raise the following question: is it sustainable to continue adding protected areas to the national system even though it is clear that the existing support is insufficient to meet the minimum requirements for full implementation?
Marine reserves are implemented to achieve a variety of objectives, but are seldom rigorously evaluated to determine whether those objectives are met. In the rare cases when evaluations do take place, they typically focus on ecological indicators and ignore other relevant objectives such as socioeconomics and governance. And regardless of the objectives, the diversity of locations, monitoring protocols, and analysis approaches hinder the ability to compare results across case studies. Moreover, analysis and evaluation of reserves is generally conducted by outside researchers, not the reserve managers or users, plausibly thereby hindering effective local management and rapid response to change. We present a framework and tool, called “MAREA”, to overcome these challenges. Its purpose is to evaluate the extent to which any given reserve has achieved its stated objectives. MAREA provides specific guidance on data collection and formatting, and then conducts rigorous causal inference analysis based on data input by the user, providing real-time outputs about the effectiveness of the reserve. MAREA’s ease of use, standardization of state-of-the-art inference methods, and ability to analyze marine reserve effectiveness across ecological, socioeconomic, and governance objectives could dramatically further our understanding and support of effective marine reserve management.
In 1997, the United Nations Environment’s Caribbean Environment Program (UNEP-CEP) convened a meeting of 50 MPA managers from which CaMPAM was born. Since then, CaMPAM has adaptively evolved into a comprehensive regional program that aims at strengthening Caribbean marine protected areas at the site and national level through a variety of mechanisms. CaMPAM’s original focus was to provide training, information sharing, and communications. Shortly after, grants awarding for learning exchanges and for implementing small projects started. Partnerships were established with interested organizations. Some collaborators became mentors and served as instructors and activities' coordinators.These tools allowed the capacity building program to address the MPA changing needs. These needs have been captured through site visits, consultations with scientists and managers, surveys, evaluations of courses and the entre program, CaMPAM project reports, specific requests of donors, the intergovernmental meetings of UNEP-CEP’s Cartagena Convention’s Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, etc. and have shaped the program. In the spirit of having a balance between the region’s needs and the role of CaMPAM as the SPAW MPA capacity building tool, in 2016 the UNEP-CEP commissioned the review of CaMPAM program in order to make it more relevant and useful. This paper co-autored by the CaMPAM founder, its coordinator, the main collaborator, and the expert commissioned to assess CaMPAM performance describes the activities implemented in 1997-2017 and the latest assessment of the program.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have become recognized as important management tools for marine and coastal ecosystems in the last few decades. However, the theoretical underpinnings of MPA regimes have arguably not yet received sufficient attention. This paper attempts to remedy this by exploring how the Cultural Theory initiated by Dame Mary Douglas can provide a theoretical foundation for the current debates about the design of MPA regimes. It does so by firstly noting that the various types of MPA governance discussed in the literature correspond to the ways of organizing, perceiving and justifying social relations recognized in Cultural Theory. The article continues by setting out how Cultural Theory helps to explain when and why MPA regimes succeed or fail to reach their goals. In particular, the article highlights the practical importance of accommodating all ways of organizing and perceiving social relations in any MPA management plan. Finally, the paper suggests that further systematic, empirical work for assessing MPAs needs to be undertaken so as to corroborate the arguments advanced in this paper.