Notes & News

MPA News

Self-assessment tool available for MPA networks

A new checklist is available to help practitioners measure the effectiveness of their MPA networks against a range of planning and management principles. Various options enable users to rate their network for each principle, comparing it to currently perceived best practices. The tool can indicate where weaknesses should be addressed, and provides a way to monitor progress over time. It is intended to be applicable at a variety of scales, from national to local-level networks. The checklist is available online at

Produced by the Marine Programme of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA-Marine), the checklist includes weblinks to examples of best practices in planning and management. Jon Day of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, who co-authored the checklist with Dan Laffoley of WCPA-Marine, is eager that this aspect is expanded. "We hope this will evolve to become more useful than just a checklist," he says. "Hopefully many more links are added so that users can readily locate best practice examples from their region and throughout the world." He invites practitioners to send examples of best practices to their respective WCPA regional coordinators, as listed at If your WCPA region currently does not have a coordinator, e-mail your best practices directly to Jon Day ( [at] and Dan Laffoley (dan.laffoley [at]

Report analyzes systems for measuring MPA effectiveness

A 2006 report for The Nature Conservancy, an international NGO, reviews 25 existing systems for evaluating the effectiveness of marine conservation programs, particularly MPAs. Recently posted online, the publication describes goals, indicators, data sources, and other characteristics of each evaluation system. It also provides a detailed chart of effectiveness indicators, and an annotated bibliography on the subject of marine conservation effectiveness. The 88-page report Measuring Conservation Effectiveness in the Marine Environment: A Review of Evaluation Techniques & Recommendations for Moving Forward is available in PDF format at

Paper proposes new system for classifying coastal and shelf areas

A paper in the July/August 2007 edition of the journal BioScience proposes a new global system for classifying coastal and shelf areas. Intended to help identify and address gaps in conservation coverage, the system divides the world's coastal and shelf areas into 12 "realms". Each realm is then subdivided into "provinces", which in turn consist of ecoregions - with a total of 232 ecoregions worldwide. As an example of the gap analysis capability offered by the system, the paper calculates that 112 ecoregions have no site represented under the Ramsar Convention for wetlands. The system covers all coastal and shelf waters shallower than 200 m; it does not consider pelagic or deep benthic environments. The paper "Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas" is available in PDF format at

Meeting on rec-fishing and MPAs agrees on ways to improve anglers' role in planning

Proceedings are available from a November 2006 meeting on recreational fishing and MPAs in Australia, convened by Recfish Australia - an industry association - and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, an Australian Government agency. The meeting examined impacts on the recreational fishing sector from various national and state-level MPA-planning processes, including the program to rezone the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (MPA News 5:10).

Attendees agreed that "MPAs will happen": i.e., that government agencies will continue to designate new MPAs as management tools. Therefore the recreational fishing sector's focus should be on minimizing MPAs' impacts rather than attempting to stop their use.

The proceedings detail lessons learned so far from planning experiences, priorities for research on MPA impacts, and tools for improving recreational fishers' engagement in planning. The tools include a call for a clear, unified position statement on MPAs from the recreational sector, and detailed case studies of positive and negative impacts on recreational fishers from MPAs. The workshop proceedings are available in PDF format at