The process of designing a network of marine reserves can involve an extraordinary amount of labor and data. This is particularly the case when planners seek an "optimal" network design - one that provides the best balance of biodiversity and socioeconomic considerations. Such a design requires accounting for multiple species, habitats, oceanographic factors, and resource uses across a wide geographic area. The data and computations involved can overwhelm planners without the aid of computers and special software to handle the challenge.
The job of the MPA manager is a challenging one. Despite shortages of funds and personnel in many cases, the manager is expected to administer a site effectively, including managing resource threats and juggling stakeholder interests. To do the job well requires people with special skills, backgrounds, or personalities.
For insights on finding such people, MPA News consulted a range of practitioners and other experts in the MPA field. Each was asked a single question: What quality or qualities make a good MPA manager? Below are their answers, in their words:
A new book aims to summarize the "state of the art" on no-take marine reserves, providing an overview of current expertise on reserve science, planning, and management. Targeting a broad audience - including non-expert scientists, students, managers, decision-makers, conservationists, and other stakeholders - the book provides analysis on all aspects of reserves, as well as detailed case studies from around the world.
Funding available for coral reef conservation
For many people, the term "marine protected area" evokes the idea of a pristine ecosystem, remote from human activities. The image of a city waterfront might not come to mind. However, MPAs can perform important functions near urban centers - serving as recreational sites, for example, or as protective zones for remaining patches of undisturbed habitat, among other purposes.
A new international agreement to protect the wreck of the Titanic from destructive activities has now been signed by two parties: the US, which signed it in June 2004, and the UK, which signed in 2003. Under the accord, parties will regulate activities such as research and salvage that may disturb or harm the wreck site. The agreement will take effect once both parties enact implementing legislation - that is, once their national legislative bodies agree to be obligated by the accord.
A seven-member panel of US scientists and policy experts has released a consensus statement on the effects of no-take marine reserves, their usefulness in fisheries management in the US, and how they may be designed, monitored, and evaluated. The statement also addresses sources of uncertainty associated with marine reserves, and recommends areas for further study. It is available online at http://www.nfcc-fisheries.org/consensus.
Correction: Komandorsky Zapovednik, Russia's largest MPA, was designated in 1993, not 1992 as described in the August 2004 issue of MPA News. Its new director, who was mentioned in the issue but not named, is Nikolay Pavlov.
Dear MPA News:
The benefits of tourism to MPAs can be significant, including the potential for generating revenue to support management (MPA News 2:8). Like other human activity in marine protected areas, though, tourism has environmental impacts. Damage to coral reefs from careless divers, as well as pollution and other ecosystem impacts from recreational vessels, are among the range of tourism effects documented in MPAs worldwide. Controlling these impacts can be as important an element of MPA management as any other.