Large areas on Mid-Atlantic Ridge closed to bottom fisheries
In April the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) closed several areas along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to bottom fisheries. The new closures total 330,000 km2 and are intended to protect deep-sea diversity from fishing gear that contacts the seafloor. The protected areas are all on the high seas, outside any national jurisdiction. Contracting parties to the NEAFC include Denmark, the E.U., Iceland, Norway, and the Russian Federation. A press release on the closures, including maps and a history of other NEAFC conservation measures, is available at www.neafc.org/system/files/vmes_press_rel_april2009.pdf
St. Eustatius Marine Park uses technology to track illegal anchoring
In recent months two commercial vessels have been boarded and fined by representatives of St. Eustatius Marine Park in the Caribbean for anchoring outside the park's designated anchoring zone. The offending vessels - a cargo vessel and a tanker - damaged coral reefs in the marine park by dragging their anchors. The violations were determined through the park's use of the Automatic Identification System, or AIS - described in the September 2008 issue of MPA News ("MPA Tip: Tracking Ships to Avoid Damage to Sensitive Areas", MPA News 10:3). Since December 2004, AIS has been required by the International Maritime Organization to be installed on virtually all large commercial ships worldwide. The technology automatically transmits a vessel's name, position, and course by VHF signal. St. Eustatius Marine Park tracks these signals with an antenna and base station, both on land. The marine park is in St. Eustatius, one of the islands that make up the Netherlands Antilles.
For more information: Duncan MacRae, Director, Coastal Zone Management (consultancy), U.K. E-mail: solutions [at] cozm.co.uk
Report available on locally managed marine areas in South Pacific
A new report analyzes locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) in the South Pacific, including their contributions to integrated island management. Published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and WWF, the report provides a regional inventory of community-run management areas and describes how they can help address the challenges South Pacific nations face, such as climate change and rapid population growth. The authors offer several recommendations for LMMA management, including that traditional tenure and governance systems be respected and that integrated island management serve as the primary goal rather than simply designating protected areas. The geographic area covered by the report includes the countries or territories of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Niue, and Tokelau. The 148-page report Status And Potential of Locally-Managed Marine Areas in the South Pacific: Meeting Nature Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood Targets through Widespread Implementation of LMMAs is available at www.sprep.org/att/publication/000646_LMMA_report.pdf.
Report analyzes how much U.S. coral habitat is protected
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program has released a report that provides digital boundaries for MPA sites in the five U.S. coral territories, the state of Hawaii, and the state of Florida, and assesses how much coral reef habitat is protected within those MPAs. The analysis shows that the percentage of coral reef ecosystem resources in MPAs and no-take areas varies substantially by location. Within the five U.S. coral territories, the U.S. Virgin Islands have the largest percentage of their coral reef resources in MPAs in general (64%). American Samoa has protected the largest percentage in no-take status (15%). The report Coral Reef Habitat Assessment for U.S. Marine Protected Areas is available at www.coris.noaa.gov/activities/habitat_assessment.
MPA Fund launched in U.S.
In the U.S. the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the National Marine Protected Areas Center, has established a new fund to assist in the development and implementation of a national system of MPAs. Called the National Marine Protected Area Fund, it will comprise separate accounts established by government agencies, private foundations, and/or corporations. Grants from the fund will be used to advance the conservation and management of ecosystems and ecological processes, renewable living resources, and cultural resources. The goal is to grow this fund to US $2 million annually in grant awards, subject to the federal appropriations process.
For more information: Anthony Chatwin, NFWF, Washington, DC, U.S. E-mail: anthony.chatwin [at] nfwf.org