Managing a marine protected area means managing people. If people do not comply with the regulations in place to protect an MPA's resources, the MPA will most likely fail to meet its goals. Education can play a major role in encouraging compliance, both by building community support for conservation and by informing the public about the penalties for noncompliance. But in cases where education is not enough, enforcement becomes necessary.
In December 2007, MPA News spoke with Angelique Songco, manager of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in the Philippines, about enforcement challenges her offshore MPA faced (MPA News 9:6). A Chinese fishing vessel had been caught poaching hundreds of live fish in the no-take MPA one year before. Songco spoke of the delays in prosecution of the case, leading to the Chinese crew members becoming part of Palawan society while they awaited trial.
When the UK government launched a public consultation in November 2009 on whether it should designate an MPA around the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean (also called the British Indian Ocean Territory), it reignited a decades-old controversy on the rights of islanders who used to live there. Expelled by the UK government in the 1960s to make room for a joint UK-US military base, Chagossian refugees have campaigned for the right to return. The resettlement issue has wended its way through the UK court system and Parliament, and might go next to the European Court of Human Rights.
Pacific Island leaders to close 4.5 million km2 of high seas to tuna vessels
In February, Parties to the Nauru Agreement - under which management of Central and Western Pacific fisheries is coordinated, including on the high seas - released a joint declaration on the future direction of the region's tuna fishery. Among other measures, the declaration calls for the closure of 4.56 million km2 of high seas to purse seine vessels. In size, the closures will total more than eight times the land area of France.
A global analysis of more than 8000 coral cover surveys from 1969-2006 has compared annual changes in coral cover inside MPAs to unprotected areas. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that marine protected areas halted the loss of coral cover over time while coral cover on unprotected reefs continued to decline. In the most recent complete year in the study (2004-2005), for example, coral cover within MPAs increased 0.05% in the Caribbean and 0.08% in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In the field of marine resource management, two concepts have received particular attention in recent years: ecosystem-based management (EBM) and marine spatial planning (MSP). Examples of these concepts in practice are emerging around the world. However, the distinction between the two often remains unclear to stakeholders, as well as to many resource managers responsible for implementing one or both concepts.
Conservation programs are often carried out at national or sub-national scales, despite the fact that many ecosystems and species cross international boundaries. One reason is that developing conservation plans at the multinational scale can present additional challenges: more meetings, more stakeholders with input, and more cultures to consider in negotiations.
By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM (tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net)
Successful EBM relies on two seemingly contradictory things:
A new Web-based tool exists to guide practitioners on moving EBM from concept to practice. Called the EBM Roadmap, its target audience is marine resource managers who already have some knowledge of EBM but need advice on implementing it. The EBM Roadmap is available at www.ebmtools.org/roadmap.html.