It is rare for marine protected areas to be mentioned in the International Journal of Epidemiology, which covers issues affecting human health and illness. But an article in a recent issue of the journal examines the relationship between increasing human demand for fish and the declining health of our ocean ecosystems. The article suggests that recommendations from health advocates that people eat more fish are on a collision course with recommendations from biologists that we conserve fish stocks.
Namibia designates first MPA
The African nation of Namibia has designated its first MPA - the Namibian Islands' Marine Protected Area. It covers nearly 9600 km2 of sea area off the country's southern coastline and includes all of Namibia's islands. Planning of the MPA began in 2005 and included consultations with stakeholders on zoning and other issues.
On 6 January 2009 in his final month in office, President George W. Bush designated three vast new MPAs in U.S. waters in the Pacific Ocean. Encompassing a total area of roughly 505,000 km2, the three MPAs are:
In January, the World Wide Web was abuzz with an advertisement for what was touted as "the best job in the world": a six-month, AU $150,000 contract (US $101,000) to serve as island caretaker in Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The job's main responsibility: to explore the natural wonders of the marine park and surrounding 600 islands, and post those experiences on the Internet. Within a month, more than 14,000 applications from 169 countries had been submitted for the position. More are still flooding in. The application period ends 22 February.
A new report provides guidance on the planning and management of MPAs in tropical regions, based on lessons learned from six MPA network initiatives in the Coral Triangle region of Southeast Asia. The publication analyzes the MPA networks through their various stages of development, including planning and design, implementation, and evaluation. Best practices for each stage are provided.
A paper in the December 2008 issue of the journal Ocean & Coastal Management describes a new approach to designing MPAs. Rather than defining the size and shape of an MPA's boundaries at the end of a planning process, as is typically done, the described approach sets the size and shape as the first step, even before any aspects of physical location are considered. The paper calls this the "sliding windows" approach.
U.S. closes large, melting Arctic area to fishing
"MPA Tip" is a recurring feature that presents advice on MPA planning and management gathered from practitioners and publications. Below, Nick Pilcher, a sea turtle biologist and Executive Director of the Marine Research Foundation in Malaysia, describes how to address a challenge often faced in MPA-planning processes - the perceived need for more data before conservation decisions can be made. He offers a simple method for identifying what is already known and where knowledge gaps exist.
Fisheries management is an important component of broader marine management, no matter the circumstances of place or the scale of EBM undertaken. But what is the relationship between ecosystem-based management in general and ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) in particular? Would it be better to think of EBFM as an entry point to EBM, or to consider EBM as a necessary prerequisite to effective EBFM?
The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) Programme is a multinational initiative conceived in 1995 and involving the southwest African governments of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. It was designed to address the region's transboundary marine challenges. Such challenges include the management of valuable fish stocks across national boundaries, harmful algal blooms, alien invasive species, and pollutants transported by winds and currents from the waters of one country to another.