In the past year, milestones were reached in two high-profile processes to create representative systems of marine protected areas. In the Australian state of Victoria and in the Channel Islands of the US state of California, government officials approved plans for networks of new MPAs, concluding lengthy and contentious planning efforts in both cases. Both processes offer lessons to practitioners and stakeholders elsewhere who face similar challenges in planning MPA networks.
More information on women and MPAs
Readers who want to learn more about the subject of women and MPAs - featured in last month's MPA News - may refer to the Women in Fisheries bulletin, published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The November 2002 edition features several articles on women's roles in community-based management and conservation in Pacific island nations. The issue is available online at http://www.spc.int/coastfish/News/WIF/WIF11/WIF11.htm.
Knowledge of how people interact with each other and with their environment is a necessary component of effective resource policy. Policymaking, including for MPAs, appears to be most informed and innovative when it is open to the views and experience of all stakeholders. However, despite their involvement in the use of coastal and marine resources around the world, many women face barriers to participating fully in the planning and management of those resources.
Marion Howard is MPA advisor for CORALINA, a Colombian government agency that manages the natural resources and sustainable development of Colombia's San Andres Archipelago, designated by UNESCO in 2000 as the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. Howard has been overseeing a project to develop a network of marine protected areas within the biosphere reserve, which has an estimated population of more than 80,000 people. Although not a Colombian, she has lived in the San Andres Archipelago for 25 years; she is the only non-national at CORALINA.
Mexican government officials reached agreement with shrimp trawlers in late October in a contentious dispute over fishing restrictions in a marine reserve. The agreement, which allows trawlers to resume harvesting shrimp in the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve, ended community protests that had blocked the movement of hundreds of tourists between Mexico and the USA.
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Leasing submerged lands: new conservation tool?
In theory, no-take marine reserves hold benefits for nearby fisheries: the reserves allow target species to grow older and larger, produce more young, and ultimately replenish fished areas with larvae and/or adults. While evidence of benefits to fisheries has appeared in scientific literature, some researchers argue that most science on reserves has not involved sufficiently rigorous experimental design, including the use of control sites.