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On 1 April, the UK Government announced its designation of a marine protected area around the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The 636,600-km2 MPA, which comprises the archipelago's Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial waters, has been touted as the largest MPA in the world.*

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Having to enforce an MPA's regulations is more expensive than having the public comply voluntarily with those rules. Hence, public education about the need for an MPA - and the various benefits the MPA could provide to stakeholders over time - can be invaluable for both protecting the site and lowering management costs. In general, where there is broad public support for an MPA's goals, the odds of its success are greatest.

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New Zealand schoolchildren are being taught to snorkel in marine reserves as part of a program to raise awareness of, and appreciation for, the country's marine biodiversity. The snorkeling program, in operation since 2002, has worked with more than 7000 primary (elementary) school students so far. It is offered by the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) program of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust, supported by the NZ Department of Conservation. The EMR program serves to generate community support for the designation of MPAs.

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Designated in 2005, the Urok Islands Marine Protected Area is Guinea Bissau's first community MPA. It is the fruit of 15 years of work by Tiniguena, a local NGO, in collaboration with local communities and institutions, the Fondation Internationale du Banc d'Arguin (FIBA), and other national and international partners. Lessons from planning and managing the Urok community MPA are documented in the report Live from Urok! Urok Islands Community Marine Protected Area: Lessons Learned and Impacts, available at http://bit.ly/cVWEux.

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Editor's note: This "Building Resilience" feature is contributed by the Reef Resilience program of The Nature Conservancy (www.reefresilience.org). The program provides guidance on building resilience to climate change into the design of MPAs.

By Rebecca Cerroni, Reef Resilience Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Ecosystem-based management can be described relatively simply. It is an approach that uses ecosystem science - our knowledge of the connections among living organisms, natural phenomena, and human activities - to guide our uses of the ocean and coast. By doing so, we can ensure that those uses are sustainable and beneficial to society.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM (tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net)

EBM is a journey, not a destination. But even significant journeys can be undertaken by taking small, purposeful steps. In the San Andrés Archipelago of Colombia, resource management has moved deliberately toward EBM via a series of discrete regulatory and policy moves.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

As a field, marine ecosystem-based management is relatively new. But some of the challenges its practitioners face are ones that people have encountered through history. A main challenge, for example, involves getting individuals and groups to change from a set way of doing things (in the oceans' case, managing resources on a single-sector basis) to a new way (integrating ocean management across multiple sectors and agencies). Managing that change can benefit from an understanding of why and when humans agree to alter how they do things.

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