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.
The site has four zone types, ranging from multi-use to no-take. More detailed regulations, as well as training for site staff and a public awareness campaign on the MPA, are in development. The Namibian Cabinet said of the MPA, "It will improve vigilance with regard to risks posed by shipping-related threats, such as oil spills, and enhance Namibia's international relations by illustrating steadfast commitment to international environmental treaties, regional and national needs and requirements, and international law."
Aaniyah Omardien of conservation group WWF, which helped lead the planning process, said the new protected area is "crucial for the biodiversity of marine resources and, as a result, important for sustainable commercial, subsistence and recreational fishing."
A report on the Namibian Islands' Marine Protected Area, supported by the NACOMA project and co-authored by personnel from WWF and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, is available at www.nacoma.org.na/FindOutMore/ReportsPublications.htm. (Scroll down that page to find the weblink to the report, under the subhead "Marine Protected Areas".)
South Australia releases boundaries for new network of MPAs
In January, the government of the Australian state of South Australia released provisional boundaries for 19 new marine parks in the state's forthcoming network of MPAs. The multi-use marine parks would cover a total area of 27,526 km2 - approximately 46% of South Australia's (state) waters. The provisional boundaries are undergoing public comment through 27 March 2009, and final boundaries will be released later this year.
After the boundaries are finalized, management plans for the new MPAs will be developed in consultation with industry and other community stakeholders. "The multi-use parks will conserve our marine environments but still allow sustainable aquaculture, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, water sports, transport, and development," said Environment and Conservation Minister Jay Weatherill in a press release. More information on the marine parks, including a map of the provisional boundaries, is available at www.environment.sa.gov.au/marineparks.
U.S. invites public comment on list of existing MPAs nominated to National System
The U.S. National Marine Protected Areas Center has received the first round of nominations for existing MPAs to join the National System of Marine Protected Areas. The list of 225 nominated sites is undergoing a 30-day public review period to ensure that each one meets the eligibility criteria for inclusion in the national system. The review period ends 6 April 2009. For instructions on providing comments, or for details on each nominated site, go to www.mpa.gov.
Following review of public comments, the final nominations will be formally accepted as charter members of the national system in April. The national system is being built from existing MPAs across all levels of government to enhance collective efforts to protect the nation's natural and cultural marine heritage. More details on the national system of MPAs can be found in the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States of America, available at www.mpa.gov/national_system/final_framework_sup.html.
India: Workshop on social dimensions of MPAs releases consensus statement
A January workshop in India on the social dimensions of MPAs, including how MPA planning could be made more sensitive to the needs of fishing communities, has released a consensus statement agreed upon by participants. The statement recommends the integration of fundamental principles of participation, environmental justice, social justice, and human rights into the implementation of marine and coastal protected areas. It calls for an integrated and participatory framework for the conservation, use, and management of marine and coastal living resources, and the securing of preferential access rights of fishing communities to coastal and fishery resources.
The workshop brought together national and state-level government officials, fishing community representatives, NGOs, environmental groups, and scientists working on the issue of MPAs. It was sponsored by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). More information on the workshop - including the prospectus, presentations, case studies of each of India's MPAs, and the consensus statement (available in English and six Indian languages) - is all available at http://mpa.icsf.net/icsf2006/jspFiles/mpa/indiaWorkshop.jsp.
Study finds rapid, positive effects on fisheries from a new network of marine reserves
New research published in the free-access science journal PLoS ONE tested predictions of larval transport of mollusks from a no-take marine reserve network in the Gulf of California (Mexico) to adjacent fished areas. Within two years after designation of the no-take areas, the researchers found relatively rapid recruitment at the downstream edge of the reserve network, with up to a three-fold increase in the density of settled juveniles found. "Our findings underscore the potential benefits of protecting larval sources and show that enhancement in recruitment can be manifested rapidly," write the authors. They acknowledge, however, that the benefits varied markedly within the seascape, with some areas not enjoying the same increases in recruitment. They call for future research to address this variability. The article "Rapid Effects of Marine Reserves via Larval Dispersal" is available free of charge at www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004140.
Mediterranean MPA projects begin
A new UNEP-led project, "Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem", has been launched to reduce pollution impacts, develop sustainable fisheries, and protect coastal and marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean. To achieve the biodiversity-protection component, the project aims to create a coherent network of MPAs in the region. It will do this by (a) promoting the designation and networking of new MPAs (the MedMPAnet project) and (b) strengthening MPA management effectiveness in countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean (the MedPAN South project).
The Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (www.rac-spa.org) will manage MedMPAnet, while the WWF Mediterranean Programme Office will manage MedPAN South (www.medpan.org). Funding for these efforts has come from the European Commission (EuropeAid), AECID, the Fonds Français pour l'Environnement Mondial, MAVA Foundation, and the Mediterranean Trust Fund.
This 21-23 April, a group of environmental officials from the 12 countries of the MedPAN South project will attend a training workshop on "MPA Capacity Building Program Planning" in Barcelona. The training is part of a mentor program aimed at providing the selected officials with skills and knowledge to train MPA staff in the Mediterranean. The trained mentors will also serve as liaisons between MedPAN South and the relevant authorities in their country. For more information, e-mail Alessandra Pomè, MedPAN South Project Manager, at apome [at] wwfmedpo.org.