This study aimed to determine the main anthropogenic pressures and the effectiveness of management practices in marine protected areas (MPAs) (Rocas Atoll and Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, South Atlantic). The MPAs exhibited high management effectiveness over the last 25 years due to the control of local pressures (i.e., fishing and tourism). However, the increase in regional and global pressures, such as invasive species, marine debris, and climate change stressors (sea-level rise, extreme events, range shifts of species, warming, and ocean acidification), are environmental risks that need to be considered during conservation. Strategies for large scale marine spatial planning, as well as proposals for an integrated management of MPAs (including coral reef islands and seamounts) by the articulation of a network, which reduces regional human pressures and improves ocean governance were discussed. This study provided insights into the challenges faced in the management of MPAs in a rapidly changing ocean.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted 20 targets, known as the Aichi Targets, to benchmark progress towards protecting biodiversity. These targets include Target 11 relating to Marine Protected Area coverage and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the accepted international database for tracking national commitments to this target. However, measuring national progress towards conservation targets relies on sound data. This paper highlights the large-scale misrepresentation, by up to two orders of magnitude, of national marine protected area coverage from two Pacific Island nations in multiple online databases and subsequent reports, including conclusions regarding achievements of Aichi 11 commitments. It recommends that for the target driven approach to have value, users of the WDPA data should carefully consider its caveats before using their raw data and that countries should strive for a greater degree of accountability. Lastly it also concludes that protected area coverage may not be the best approach to environmental sustainability and that the remaining 19 targets should be considered to a greater extent.
Marine ecosystems globally have suffered habitat, biodiversity and function loss in response to human activity. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can limit extractive activities and enhance ecosystem resilience, but do not directly address external stressors. We surveyed 48 sites within seven MPAs and nearby unprotected areas to evaluate drivers of coral reef condition in the Mexican Caribbean. We found that local human activity limits protection effectiveness. Coral cover was positively related to protection characteristics, but was significantly lower at sites with elevated local human activity. Furthermore, we predict ongoing coastal development will reduce coral cover despite expanded protection within a regionwide MPA if an effective integrated coastal zone management strategy is not implemented. Policy makers must acknowledge the detrimental impact of uncontrolled coastal development and apply stringent construction and wastewater regulations in addition to marine protection.
- Marine managers are looking increasingly to marine protected areas (MPAs) to deliver benefits to fisheries; however, many of these MPAs have been established in order to address specific conservation objectives unrelated to fisheries management.
- This paper describes a small no‐take zone (NTZ) set up in the Clyde, Scotland, for conservation purposes, and examines its effect on the abundance of two commercially fished scallops, Pecten maximus and Aequipecten opercularis, 5 years after closure.
- Scallop fishing immediately outside the NTZ has continued since this closure, although at lower intensities, with overall landings in the Clyde and landings per unit area rising until 2013, suggesting a slight increase in regional abundance.
- There was neither a significant increase in adult scallop abundance within the NTZ nor evidence of the dispersal of adults into surrounding areas.
- Transient dynamics and the small size of the NTZ may have played a role in the lack of demonstrable scallop recovery. The practice of ‘selling’ small conservation MPAs in terms of meeting wider fisheries objectives is discussed in light of this result.
Ecosystem‐based management and conservation approaches such as marine protected areas (MPAs) require large amounts of ecological data to be implemented and adaptively managed. Recently, many citizen science programs have endeavored to help provide these much‐needed data. Implementation of MPAs under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in Southern California was followed by a monitoring program to establish a comprehensive baseline of the ecological conditions of several marine ecosystems at the time of MPA implementation. This baseline monitoring consortium involved several citizen science monitoring programs alongside more traditional academic monitoring programs, creating an opportunity to evaluate the potential for citizen scientists to become more involved in future long‐term monitoring efforts. We investigated different citizen science models, their program goals, and contributions to MPA baseline monitoring, including their respective monitoring protocols and data quality assurance measures, in the context of the goals of the MLPA baseline monitoring program. We focused on three very different case studies: (i) commercial fishermen and other volunteers collaborating with researchers to study the California spiny lobster, (ii) volunteer divers monitoring rocky reefs with the Reef Check California (RCCA) program and (iii) middle and high school students monitoring the inter‐tidal life of rocky shore and sandy beach ecosystems with the National Marine Sanctuaries’ Long‐term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS) program. We elucidate capacities and potential of citizen science approaches for MPA baseline monitoring and for building capacity towards sustainable long‐term monitoring of MPAs. Results from this study will be relevant and timely as the monitoring of California's MPAs transitions from baseline to long‐term monitoring, and as citizen science continues to become more prevalent in California and elsewhere.
Refugia are one means of species survivorship during a global crisis. As the Earth is facing a major crisis in the marine biosphere, the study of refugia through past extinctions and other global crises is relevant to creating and maintaining effective marine reserves (including marine protected areas and other formally established havens for conservation). A synthesis of previous studies identifies the following properties common to most definitions of a refugium: (1) During a global crisis, a species can persist in a refugium, which can include a range shift, habitat shift, or migration or contraction to an isolated geographic area. Subsets of isolated geographic refugia include life history refugia (areas necessary for breeding), cryptic refugia (small areas, must remain connected for populations to remain viable), and harvest refugia (defined from the modern literature to escape overfishing pressure). (2) In the refugium, the habitat may remain stressed but is sufficiently habitable for the species to maintain sufficient albeit small populations (relative to pre-crisis population size) over many generations. (3) After the crisis ends, the species emerges from the refugium and expands during the recovery interval. Otherwise, the refugium will become a refugial trap in which the species remains a relict population or ultimately becomes extinct.
The present understanding of refugia from the geologic past comes from three sources, namely fossil data, phylogeographic reconstructions, and species distribution models, the latter two being more common for studies across the last glacial maximum. The synthesis herein suggests several important factors when considering the future of marine reserves. Because climate change is an ongoing process, the present refugia of marine reserves may not be sufficient for the future survival of marine species. Short-term refugia of some present marine reserves may deteriorate because of further climate change and have to be abandoned for new long-term options as new habitats become available. Cryptic refugia of small reserves must remain connected in terms of species’ dispersal and exchange, but must also be flexible, in that cryptic refugia naturally are sometimes ephemeral because of habitat heterogeneity through time. Finally, habitats in marine reserves must be of sufficiently low stress to maintain viable populations, but should frequently be re-evaluated to avoid becoming refugial traps in the future.
In March 2018, Brazil’s government announced two sets of large marine protected areas (MPAs) in the open ocean (about 400,000 km2 each). According to the government’s ambitious plan (1), the total coverage of MPAs under Brazilian national jurisdiction will rise sharply from 1.5 to 25%, in line with an emerging global trend in designation of large MPAs (2). Although these new MPAs presented an opportunity to make progress toward biological priorities, the decision-making process instead reflected uninformed opportunism (3). Rather than meeting conservation goals, the proposed MPAs exemplify poor adherence to best practices in MPA planning in three ways.
This paper investigates the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) approach through looking at developments and challenges of community-based marine resource management over time, with a particular focus on Fiji in the South Pacific region. A diachronic perspective, based on two multi-method empirical studies, is used to exemplify the social complexities of the implementation of this LMMA approach in a specific island setting. This perspective connects local stakeholders' establishment and management of a LMMA covering their entire customary fishing rights area (iqoliqoli) with the national context articulated around the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network, as well as with regional networking and international conservation dynamics. It especially explores the impacts of a small-scale marine closure (so-called tabu area) on the harvesting patterns in a portion of this LMMA, related aspects of formal and informal enforcement, and villagers' views of the health of their reef fishery. This case study reveals a lack of consensus on the current management of this closure as a conditionally-opened no-take area, whose temporary openings (re)produce social tensions, as well as a lack of consensus on the effects of this closure on the reef fishery, which is subject to poaching. The paper highlights that the articulation between conservation and extraction of marine resources, as well as between short-term and longer-term objectives of the community-based marine resource management in place, is a complex sociopolitical process even at the most local level. The discussion also points out that local observations and interpretations of coastal resource dynamics, and of the interplay between fishery and community changes, might be instrumental in addressing the limits of the area-based system of management inherent in the LMMA approach. These insights into both the development process of the LMMA approach and the challenges of its local implementation and maintenance efforts can be useful to consider the adjustments necessary for Fiji's achievement of its national coastal fisheries management strategy and its international ocean governance commitments.
The paper first briefly describes the negotiation process of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Then it examines China's changing position towards the establishment of a Ross Sea MPA, as proposed by the United States and New Zealand in the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Finally, the paper explores how China's position towards or against Southern Ocean MPAs implies China's future role in Antarctic governance.
Increasing the size and number of marine protected areas (MPAs) is widely seen as a way to meet ambitious biodiversity and sustainable development goals. Yet, debate still exists on the effectiveness of MPAs in achieving ecological and societal objectives. Although the literature provides significant evidence of the ecological effects of MPAs within their boundaries, much remains to be learned about the ecological and social effects of MPAs on regional and seascape scales. Key to improving the effectiveness of MPAs, and ensuring that they achieve desired outcomes, will be better monitoring that includes ecological and social data collected inside and outside of MPAs. This can lead to more conclusive evidence about what is working, what is not, and why. Eight authors were asked to write about their experiences with MPA effectiveness. The authors were instructed to clearly define “effectiveness” and discuss the degree to which they felt MPAs had achieved or failed to be effective. Essays were exchanged among authors and each was invited to write a shorter “counterpoint.” The exercise shows that, while experiences are diverse, many authors found common ground regarding the role of MPAs in achieving conservation targets. This exchange of perspectives is intended to promote reflection, analysis, and dialogue as a means for improving MPA design, assessment, and integration with other conservation tools.