Correction Last month's issue (MPA News 3:6) incorrectly reported the date by which a draft operations plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve would be available for public comment. The draft operations plan is expected to be available in February 2002. Also in February, the US National Marine Sanctuary Program is expected to begin a scoping process to solicit public input on designating the reserve as a national marine sanctuary.
One of the most difficult scientific and political questions in MPA planning is that of whether no-take marine reserves can serve to increase fish catches in surrounding fished areas. This effect -- achieved when larval or adult fish exit a reserve -- often becomes a central issue both for reserve planners and for stakeholders affected by pending closures, particularly fishermen. When future "spillover" of fish out of a reserve is assumed, support for a reserve can be high among fishermen. But with few real-life demonstrations of the spillover effect existing in the scientific literature, how sure can planners and stakeholders be that it will happen?
The authors of a paper published in Science magazine on November 30 say that two sites they have studied show the spillover effect is real, and that reserves can play a key role in supporting fisheries. Lead author Callum Roberts of the University of York (UK) hopes the findings "will help remove a major logjam in the debate." (Co-authors on the paper included Fiona Gell and Julie Hawkins, both of the University of York; Jim Bohnsack of the US National Marine Fisheries Service; and Renata Goodridge of the University of the West Indies [Barbados].)
By Mark Tupper, University of Guam
Many scientists agree that tropical fisheries in developing island nations, such as St. Lucia, stand to gain the most from no-take marine reserves. Many of these island fisheries are seriously overexploited and have little or no management of their reef fish stocks. In such cases, where no-take marine reserves are established they serve as the primary (in some cases sole) controls of catch and effort. It seems obvious that any management regime will produce increased yields over no management at all, and for developing tropical nations with several hundred or more species of reef fish, no-take marine reserves might be much easier to enforce than a complex set of catch limits, size limits, and gear restrictions. However, the St. Lucia example is specific to coral reef fisheries and does not prove the global utility of no-take marine reserves to fisheries.
Last month, in Part One of a two-part study, MPA News offered insights from two experts on the relationship between indigenous peoples and MPAs. This month, we provide summaries of four MPAs planned and managed with the significant involvement of indigenous peoples.
In the past quarter-century, MPAs have experienced a surge in popularity among resource managers looking for tools to help protect underwater habitats and other resources. Of the thousands of MPAs now in existence worldwide, the large majority of them have been designated since the mid-1970s.
But the modern history of marine protected areas began long before that. To get a sense of when, and where, the modern MPA movement began, one must pinpoint when the first MPA was designated. This is easier said than done. With the definition of "marine protected area" often differing from user to user, several MPAs around the world have been named, in print or on the web, as being "the first".
Wading into this issue, MPA News challenged readers in September to name the oldest existing marine protected area in the world, in hopes that we might help to settle this matter. Our guidelines were fairly simple: nominated MPAs must exist currently, and must fit the IUCN definition of marine protected area -- "an area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment." (IUCN 1992)
Mozambique protects Bazaruto coral reefs
The government of Mozambique on November 28 extended the boundaries of what had been solely a terrestrial park on the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago to include 1,400 km2 of the surrounding waters. The newly named Bazaruto Archipelago National Park features coral reefs and seagrass beds that support a diverse fishery, a strong dive industry, and the largest viable dugong population on the East African coast. The pending management plan for the expanded park includes a zoning system that will establish some no-take areas, particularly in coral communities; elsewhere in the park, seine and hand-line fisheries by island residents will still be allowed.
When MPA News was launched two years ago, the editorial board had one overarching goal: to serve the entire community of MPA stakeholders by informing them and bringing them together in discussion, debate, and understanding. This remains our goal, and the editorial board has worked to cover the range of views and knowledge held by stakeholders.
Dear MPA News:
As a matter of general principle, the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council is opposed to the introduction of no-take MPAs unless we can be satisfied that it is demonstrably in the best interests of our members and coastal communities. Locking up areas of marine waters around Tasmania (MPA News 3:4) is an extremely contentious issue, and we have yet to see positive evidence that proves marine reserves actually benefit the commercial fishing industry.
The draft Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was adopted on November 6 by the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO. The convention covers activities directed at sunken ships and other "traces of human existence" that have been submerged for at least 100 years (MPA News 3:3). Among parties to the convention, no activity directed at such heritage may occur without a permit. The convention will now be submitted to UNESCO member nations for ratification; if adopted by a two-thirds majority of member nations, the convention will become international law, at least for its signatories. For more information: http://www.unesco.org/culture/legalprotection.
The results of MPA News's reader challenge to name the oldest marine protected area in the world (MPA News 3:3) will be published in next month's issue.
In most areas of the world, indigenous peoples can be important stakeholders in the planning and management of marine protected areas, often offering a detailed ecological knowledge of the sea, honed over centuries. In addition, some nations grant special territorial and resource rights to indigenous peoples, empowering them with a direct say in how protected areas are planned and managed.
This month, as part one of a two-part study, MPA News offers insights from two experts -- Gonzalo Oviedo and Bob Johannes -- on issues involved in the participation of indigenous peoples in MPA practice. An MPA News interview with Oviedo and a perspective piece by Johannes appear below. In next month's newsletter, we will examine case examples of MPAs in which indigenous peoples have played a significant role.