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A fundamental challenge in MPA management is that the resources being protected are often remote - located underwater, out of human eyesight, sometimes kilometers from shore. This can make monitoring, education, and other management activities relatively difficult, compared to parks on land. To address this challenge, some practitioners are using webcam technology: unmanned cameras that transmit live video or still imagery from MPAs to the World Wide Web. On the Web, people can access this footage - resource managers, educators, scientists, enforcement personnel, and the general public.

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If you conduct a Google search for "underwater webcam", one of the first sites you encounter is for Bonaire WebCams, a series of cameras that transmit video from various locations on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. One of these cameras is the so-called Bonaire ReefCam, located in shallow water inside the Bonaire National Marine Park. The ReefCam is operated privately by a resort and dive operator under permit from the park, and was installed by Caribbean Webcams (http://www.caribbeanwebcams.com).

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Editor's note: Jeffrey Leis is principal research scientist for ichthyology at the Australian Museum. Our March 2003 edition (MPA News 4:9) featured his remarks on larval dispersal and marine reserves, accompanied by an extended online interview.

By Jeffrey M. Leis

[Note: A full list of the literature cited in the following essay is available.]

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In the marine realm, the rising popularity in recent years of the concept of ecosystem-based management - or, alternatively, ecosystem approaches to management - has been swift, with management organizations at multiple levels endorsing it worldwide. The concept involves applying a holistic approach to resource management rather than focusing on a single species or sector.

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Shankar Aswani has spent more than a dozen years researching marine ecosystems and coastal communities in the Solomon Islands in the southwestern Pacific. An anthropologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara (US), Aswani is now leading a project to establish a network of community-based MPAs and seasonal no-take zones in the Solomons, to be managed under customary sea tenure in the nation's Western Province. More than 25 MPAs have been designated so far as part of the project, mostly in two lagoons (Roviana and Vonavona).

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Marine protected areas in Lebanon and the Philippines were hit by major oil spills in the months of July and August, with clean-up crews working into September and likely beyond to remove oil from blackened beaches and other habitats. The events highlight the threat posed by spill emergencies to MPAs and surrounding ecosystems, and serve as a reminder to MPA managers of the need for response planning.

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Jim E. Peschel is an 11-year veteran of the US Coast Guard specializing in pollution response and waterways management, and was the marine operations manager of a national spill-response organization. He now serves as quality assurance manager of a tug and barge company, using training, maintenance, and tools to prevent spills from occurring. Below, Peschel discusses with MPA News what MPA managers can do in response to the threat of oil spills.

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