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MPA News

By Kreg Lindberg, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

As illustrated in the recent MPA News article on self-financing (March 2001), user fees like the US$10 dive fee at Bonaire can make important contributions to the funding of MPAs. Nonetheless, there are several conceptual and practical issues facing MPA managers when deciding whether to charge fees. This article briefly discusses some of these issues in the context of user fees at Belizean MPAs.

MPA News

With each year's designation of new marine protected areas around the world, analysis of the coverage fostered by this patchwork of MPAs is becoming increasingly difficult.

For managers to assess gaps in habitat protection, they must first document where MPAs already exist. In regions where dozens -- or hundreds -- of marine protected areas have been designated under various regulatory regimes, such documentation can be painstaking. Nonetheless, inventories of MPAs are necessary for effective marine resource planning, and efforts to create regional MPA databases are becoming more common.

The new book Marine Protected Areas and Fishery Closures in British Columbia may offer a useful model for MPA practitioners interested in pursuing their own MPA-inventory process. Created by two Canadian fisheries researchers, the book profiles the 125 legislated MPAs and 579 spatially-persistent fishery closures along Canada's Pacific coast. (The book defines "fishery closures" as restricting only fishing activity, while "marine protected areas" may address a variety of human activities.)

MPA News

The US Man and the Biosphere Program, a federal multiagency initiative, has published a reference manual to help MPA practitioners develop user-access strategies. It is a product of a five-year, peer-reviewed project to assess impacts of various MPA management schemes.

Alternative Access Management Strategies for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Reference Manual for Their Development and Assessment offers a flowchart of the major components of managing MPAs. Its chapters -- short, relatively introductory essays -- follow the flowchart and offer references to sources of additional information. The topics range from establishing a legal framework and vision statement, to assessing ecosystem health and involving local stakeholders in decisionmaking.

MPA News

Managing the relationship between tourism and marine protected areas requires a balancing act on the part of MPA practitioners. The unique ecological features found in MPAs often make them popular tourist attractions for scuba diving, sightseeing, or other activities, and these can generate revenue for the MPA and the local community. But tourists, if not managed carefully, can quickly degrade the very resources they have come to see.

This month, MPA News examines how some stakeholders in the global MPA community -- divers, researchers, recreational fishers, and environmentalists -- are working to influence the way that MPA practitioners balance tourism and conservation.

MPA News

By Stephen Palumbi, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

The seas are increasingly in serious trouble. Coral bleaching, blankets of hypoxic or anoxic water, radical changes in species composition, toxic algal blooms, marine epidemic diseases, mass mortalities, and fisheries collapses are all symptoms of complex but fundamental alterations in the health of marine ecosystems. As both the value and vulnerability of marine ecosystems become broadly recognized, there is an increasing search for effective mechanisms to prevent or reverse widespread declines, and to sustain or restore ocean ecosystems.

MPA News

There is now compelling scientific evidence that no-take areas -- or marine reserves -- conserve both biodiversity and fisheries, and could help replenish depleted fish stocks, according to a consensus statement signed by 160 marine-science academics from around the world. Released February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the statement is the culmination of a three-year, international effort to advance scientific understanding of marine reserves.

"All around the world there are different experiences, but the basic message is the same: marine reserves work, and they work fast," said Jane Lubchenco (Oregon State University, USA), a past president of AAAS and a leader of the three-year effort. "It is no longer a question of whether to set aside fully protected areas in the ocean, but where to establish them."

The consensus statement recommends that marine resource managers use reserves as a "central management tool" for achieving long-term fishery and conservation benefits. It concludes that networks of reserves, rather than isolated single reserves, will be necessary to buffer against environmental variability and catastrophes.

MPA News

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has published a guidebook to assist protected area managers in identifying and securing appropriate and sustainable finance. Financing Protected Areas: Guidelines for Protected Area Managers provides a step-by-step process for creating business and financial plans, and discusses mechanisms for generating revenue flows.

Released in October 2000, the 58-page book is based on inputs from a range of sources, including IUCN's Economics Unit and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). It guides readers through the range of funding sources and mechanisms available at international, national and local levels.

MPA News

Marine protected area practitioners regularly face the challenge of meeting their conservation goals with a budget that is less than needed. Short on funding, MPA managers must limit their conservation programs and visitor services.

This situation is what attracts many practitioners to the concept of finding additional resources besides those budgeted. By harnessing the economic potential of an MPA -- as by charging fees on visitors -- they can use that revenue to support the costs of resource protection.

MPA News

Charles Darwin was referring to living organisms.  I am quoting him here because the complex, interrelated environmental problems which the world is seeing at the end of the 20th century reveal that his observation is equally applicable to the checks and relations between human political and administrative organizations.

We are at last realizing that everything is connected to everything else and that the world operates as a complex process with characteristics which ensure that it will function chaotically.  That is to say, precise predictions of events and states a long time ahead will not be possible.

The best reaction to such a situation is to proceed strategically -- that is, to adopt policies that will put us in advantageous positions from which to take specific actions which will contribute to our attaining our objective.  Our goal is, of course, ecologically sustainable development.

MPA News

The number of marine protected areas is growing worldwide. But how effective is each in meeting its objectives? A new report from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) offers a method for evaluating the successes and shortfalls of individual protected areas and protected area systems.

Evaluating Effectiveness: A Framework for Assessing the Management of Protected Areas, published in October 2000, is an evaluation workbook for protected-area stakeholders. Providing step-by-step advice, the report is designed to be used at a variety of assessment levels, from relatively quick evaluations at a national level to detailed monitoring programs at each site.

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