With over 30 years’ experience of managing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), China has established more than 250 MPAs in its coastal and marine areas, but the overall management effectiveness is unimpressive . Recently, China has made commitments to expand the MPA coverage in its waters ([7,52,53]) and develop an “ecological barrier” along the coast by connecting MPAs and islands by 2020 (The State Council 2015). In this context, this study reviews major challenges in current MPA practices in China, including the lack of systematic and scientific approaches, inadequate laws and regulations, ineffective governance mechanisms, conflicts between conservation and exploitation, limited funding, and inadequate monitoring programs. Four scenarios for developing China's MPA networks are developed and analyzed based on a literature review of experience in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the Philippines, as well as a set of interviews with Chinese MPA experts. These scenarios include: 1) creating a national system with an inventory of MPAs, 2) developing social networks, 3) developing regional ecological networks, and 4) developing a national representative network. The first two scenarios focus on the enhancement of the governance system through connecting individual MPAs as a social, institutional, and learning network, which could provide opportunities for creating an ecologically coherent network, while the latter two emphasized ecological connectivity and representativeness. Given different focuses, they can be applied at different stages of implementation and combinations of scenarios can be used depending on China's needs.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
As the summer minimum in Arctic sea ice cover reduces in area year by year due to anthropogenic global climate change, so interest grows in the un-tapped oil, gas and fisheries resources that were previously concealed beneath. We show that existing marine protected areas in the Arctic Ocean offer little or no protection to many habitats and deep seafloor features that coincide spatially with areas likely to be of interest to industry. These habitats are globally unique, hosting Arctic species within pristine environments that are currently undergoing rapid adjustment to climate-induced changes in ocean dynamics, species migration and primary production. They are invaluable as reference points for conservation monitoring and assessment. The existing Arctic marine protected area network needs to be expanded in order to protect these habitats and be fully coordinated with other spatial and non-spatial measures intended to protect Arctic habitats and ensure any uses of Arctic marine or subsea resources are sustainable.
The Natura 2000 network forms the cornerstone of the biodiversity conservation strategy of the European Union and is the largest coordinated network of protected areas (PAs) in the world. Here, we demonstrated that the network fails to adequately cover the marine environment and meet the conservation target of 10% set by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The relative percentage of marine surface cover varies significantly among member states. Interestingly, the relative cover of protected seascape was significantly lower for member states with larger exclusive economic zones. Our analyses demonstrated that the vast majority (93%) of the Natura 2000 sites that cover marine waters include both a terrestrial and a marine component. As a result, the majority of the protected surfaces is adjacent to the coastline, and decreases offshore; only 20% of Natura marine PAs is at depths >200 m. The lack of systematic planning processes is further reflected by the great variability in the distances among protected sites and the limited number of shared Natura sites among member states. Moreover, <40% of the marine sites have management plans, indicating the absence of active, or limited management in most sites. This work highlights the gaps in coverage and spatial design of the European conservation network in the marine environment, and raises questions on the unevenly treatment of marine vs. terrestrial areas.
The creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and MPA networks is increasing globally. This trend is reflected in England's waters, where 34.7% of waters are protected. MPA network creation can displace activities (primarily fisheries) that are thought to be incompatible with the habitats and species of conservation importance that the network has been established to protect. There is also an obligation on the UK Government to ensure that all of its waters achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020 under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The designation of MPAs and the subsequent introduction of management measures that displace activities may result in unintended impacts/consequences on protected benthic habitats or species within (a) the MPA where management measures have been introduced, (b) other MPAs or (c) wider UK or international waters. An incomplete understanding of the extent and type of fishing that is occurring within the MPA network (and throughout English waters in general), coupled with a paucity of information regarding how fishing effort is displaced as a result of MPA designation, may hinder the achievement of both GES by 2020 and MPA management goals. Better understanding of fishing effort displacement can inform the siting of future MPAs, aid marine spatial planning and improve existing MPA management. To aid the better description and understanding of the various facets of fisheries effort displacement, this paper proposes for the first time a structure to differentiate the types of fisheries displacement. Measures to mitigate the consequences of displaced fishing effort are also identified.
Government-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) can restore small fish stocks, but have been heavily criticized for excluding resource users and creating conflicts. A promising but less studied alternative are community-managed MPAs, where resource users are more involved in MPA design, implementation and enforcement. Here we evaluated effects of government- and community-managed MPAs on the density, size and biomass of seagrass- and coral reef-associated fish, using field surveys in Kenyan coastal lagoons. We also assessed protection effects on the potential monetary value of fish; a variable that increases non-linearly with fish body mass and is particularly important from a fishery perspective. We found that two recently established community MPAs (< 1 km2 in size, ≤ 5 years of protection) harbored larger fish and greater total fish biomass than two fished (open access) areas, in both seagrass beds and coral reefs. As expected, protection effects were considerably stronger in the older and larger government MPAs. Importantly, across management and habitat types, the protection effect on the potential monetary value of the fish was much stronger than the effects on fish biomass and size (6.7 vs. 2.6 and 1.3 times higher value in community MPAs than in fished areas, respectively). This strong effect on potential value was partly explained by presence of larger (and therefore more valuable) individual fish, and partly by higher densities of high-value taxa (e.g. rabbitfish). In summary, we show that i) small and recently established community-managed MPAs can, just like larger and older government-managed MPAs, play an important role for local conservation of high-value fish, and that ii) these effects are equally strong in coral reefs as in seagrass beds; an important habitat too rarely included in formal management. Consequently, community-managed MPAs could benefit both coral reef and seagrass ecosystems and provide spillover of valuable fish to nearby fisheries.
Unsustainable land uses may result in poor watershed management, increased soil erosion, poorly-planned urban development, increased runoff, and sewage pollution, creating an environmental stress gradient across coastal coral reefs. This study was aimed at: 1) Evaluating water quality within and outside the Canal Luis Peña Natural Reserve (CLPNR), Culebra Island, Puerto Rico; 2) Determining if there was any significant environmental stress gradient associated to land-based non-point source pollution; and 3) Characterizing shallow-water coral reef communities across the gradient. Strong gradient impacts associated to sediment-laden and nutrient-loaded runoff pulses, in combination with non-point raw sewage pulses, and sediment bedload, impacted coastal coral reefs. Water quality showed significant spatio-temporal fluctuations (p<0.0001), largely responding to heavy rainfall and subsequent runoff pulses. Benthic community structure showed significant spatial variation along the environmental stress gradient (p=0.0002). Macroalgae, dead coral surfaces, algal turf, and low coral species richness, species diversity index (H’c), and evenness (J’c) dominated benthic assemblages across reefs frequently impacted by runoff pulses and sediment bedload. The combination of fecal coliform and enterococci concentrations were correlated with variation in benthic community structure (Rho=0.668; p=0.0020). The combined variation in salinity, dissolved oxygen and enterococci concentrations explained 75% of the observed spatial variation in benthic assemblages (R2=0.7461; p=0.0400). Local human stressors affected coral reefs within no-take CLPNR and risk analyses suggest it may offset its ecological benefits. There is a need to design and implement integrated coastal-watershed management strategies to address multiple land use activities, including erosion-control best management practices, watershed reforestation, and sewage pollution control.
Around the globe, nations are creating marine protected areas (MPAs) that prohibit some or all fishing and other potentially harmful activities. MPAs can allow sensitive habitats and ecosystems to prosper in a natural state and can enable recovery of commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries, among other benefits. All too often, however, MPAs exist only on paper. These countries may lack strong legal authority to enable enforcement in their MPAs, further limiting their ability to detect and prosecute offenses. This is especially problematic for large-scale, remote MPAs that are typically located far offshore from the coastal state and face threats from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities carried out by distant water fishing vessels flagged in far-away countries.
Legal Tools for Strengthening Marine Protected Area Enforcement: A Handbook is a new resource for countries seeking to improve enforcement for their existing MPAs or to write new MPA laws with an eye toward compliance and enforcement. Drawing on the input and experience of an expert advisory group, the Handbook introduces a set of principles for effective MPA enforcement to guide policymakers and legal drafters. It then presents a variety of legal tools and approaches available to improve a country’s MPA enforcement and compliance, together with sample provisions that countries may use to implement these reforms through targeted national legislation, regulations, international agreements, or other legal instruments. Topics covered include the powers of enforcement officials, detection of offenses, adjudication, penalties, international collaboration, the role of local communities, and more.
In 2015, Canada’s federal government made a public commitment to reach Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, by protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017, and 10% by 2020. Achieving these conservation targets will require a significant increase in the rate of designation of marine protected areas in Canada. This can be facilitated by the laws that guide the designation and Linking Science and Law: Minimum Protection Standards for Canada's Marine Protected Areasdecision-making processes for marine protection. In the 5 point Action Plan for reaching the protection targets, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard committed to examining “how the Oceans Act can be updated to facilitate the designation process for Marine Protected Areas, without sacrificing science, or the public’s opportunity to provide input.”
In this brief, West Coast presents recommendations for updating the Oceans Act to translate scientifically-determined protection standards into law. We discuss the importance of law for MPAs, review the scientific rationale for protection standards and the current legal practice regarding standards under the Oceans Act, and examine problems with current practices.
Management of the diverse fisheries of the world has had mixed success. While managing single species in data-rich environments has been largely effective, perhaps the greatest challenge facing fishery managers is how to deal with mixed stocks of fish with a range of life histories that reside in the same location. Because many fishing gears are nonselective, and the costs of making gear selective can be high, a particular problem is bycatch of weak stocks. This problem is most severe when the weak stock is long-lived and has low fecundity and thus requires a very long recovery time once overfished. We investigate the role that marine reserves might play in solving this challenging and ubiquitous problem in ecosystem-based management. Evidence for marine reserves’ potential to manage fisheries in an ecosystem context has been mixed, so we develop a heuristic strategic mathematical model to obtain general conclusions about the merits of managing multispecies fisheries by using reserves relative to managing them with nonspatial approaches. We show that for many fisheries, yields of strong stocks can be increased, and persistence of weak stocks can be ensured, by using marine reserves rather than by using traditional nonspatial approaches alone. Thus, reserves have a distinct advantage as a management tool in many of the most critical multispecies settings. We also show how the West Coast groundfish fishery of the United States meets these conditions, suggesting that management by reserves may be a superior option in that case.
Protected areas (PAs) are intended to provide native biodiversity and habitats with a refuge against the impacts of global change, particularly acting as natural filters against biological invasions. In practice, however, it is unknown how effective PAs will be in shielding native species from invasions under projected climate change. Here, we investigate the current and future potential distributions of 100 of the most invasive terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species in Europe. We use this information to evaluate the combined threat posed by climate change and invasions to existing PAs and the most susceptible species they shelter. We found that only a quarter of Europe's marine and terrestrial areas protected over the last 100 years have been colonized by any of the invaders investigated, despite offering climatically suitable conditions for invasion. In addition, hotspots of invasive species and the most susceptible native species to their establishment do not match at large continental scales. Furthermore, the predicted richness of invaders is 11%–18% significantly lower inside PAs than outside them. Invasive species are rare in long-established national parks and nature reserves, which are actively protected and often located in remote and pristine regions with very low human density. In contrast, the richness of invasive species is high in the more recently designated Natura 2000 sites, which are subject to high human accessibility. This situation may change in the future, since our models anticipate important shifts in species ranges toward the north and east of Europe at unprecedented rates of 14–55 km/decade, depending on taxonomic group and scenario. This may seriously compromise the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This study is the first comprehensive assessment of the resistance that PAs provide against biological invasions and climate change on a continental scale and illustrates their strategic value in safeguarding native biodiversity.