The draft plan to re-zone the massive Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, proposing to set aside roughly one-third of the park as no-take areas, has drawn strong reactions from stakeholder groups throughout the state of Queensland (Australia). Released in June and open for public comment until August 4, 2003, the plan is expected to undergo changes before heading forward in the legislative process.
Editor's note: Richard Offen has raised funds for the National Trust, a UK conservation NGO, since 1989. In 1993, he undertook management of the Trust's Neptune Coastline Campaign to acquire and maintain outstanding natural or historic coastal land in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Through the campaign, the Trust has protected 600 miles of coastline, now privately owned by the organization (MPA News 4:10).
Coalition launches effort to establish West African MPA network
Dear MPA News:
The worldwide clarion call for "no-take zones" has me worried. Have we so failed in management that we must now totally close MPAs to fishing and other uses? Controlled and balanced use of resources through management programs used to be our objective. Now we seem to be giving up on management and turning to closed areas as the solution for all our failures.
Closed areas may seem easier in execution but could be seen as a simple-minded approach compared to intelligent management of activities in MPAs, which includes exclusion in certain replenishment areas.
Commercial and recreational fishing should be banned in nearly one third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to protect the range of reef and non-reef species and communities, according to a draft zoning plan released by the Australian Government on June 2. The plan, now out for public comment, would designate 111,700 km2 of the 350,000-km2 marine park as off-limits to fishing, effectively creating the world's largest network of no-take marine reserves.
When deciding where to site new marine protected areas, planners often consider the "naturalness" of a location - its relative lack of disturbance or degradation by humans. Reasons for using this criterion vary from economic to scientific, and from ecological to philosophical. In each case, the goal of these planners is to protect relatively pristine sites before significant human-induced change occurs.
Volunteer ranger killed in Philippines
Nations generally hold their coastal waters and submerged lands to be the property of the state, kept in the public trust. As a result, the great majority of marine protected areas around the globe are publicly operated, with government oversight of planning and management. However, there are examples worldwide of MPAs that exist under the ownership of (or long-term lease to) private organizations, and other MPAs are managed through close partnership arrangements between private and public entities.
Editor's note: Bill Ballantine, author of this perspective piece, is a marine biologist at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. In last month's MPA News, Ballantine outlined a set of scientific principles he described as necessary for the planning of systems of no-take marine reserves (MPA News 4:9). This month, he envisions what the future of marine reserve monitoring and management will be like if those principles are followed.