In designing MPA networks, planners must decide how they will choose which sites to include. There are a variety of ways to select sites, from simple ones (having experts make a list based on their best judgment) to complex (using advanced software to consider an array of ecological and socioeconomic factors). There are also questions on how best to classify the area you seek to protect. After all, if you aim to have a representative network of MPAs, you need to know what characteristics or habitats you want represented within it, and how to include samples of each in the network.
By Dan Brumbaugh
Collectively, stakeholders in most MPA processes are interested in science-based network designs that provide confidence in the long-term persistence of biological diversity and the maintenance of important ecosystem processes and services. Therefore, a big challenge for marine conservation scientists and planners is to utilize features (i.e., what people want to conserve), target levels (how much is needed or how much can be afforded), and new algorithms that fully achieve stakeholder visions for their seascapes.
Editor's note: Peter Mous is MPA Advisor for the Coral Reef Management and Rehabilitation Program (COREMAP) in Indonesia. Agus Dermawan is Deputy Director for Aquatic Conservation Areas and Marine National Parks (Directorate-General of Marine, Coastal, and Small Islands) in Indonesia's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. Cherryta Yunia is Deputy Director for Conservation Areas, Wetlands, and Essential Ecosystems (Directorate-General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation) in Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry.
Program to build MPA management capacity
"MPA Tip" is a recurring feature that presents advice for MPA planning and management from practitioners and publications. Below are suggestions for resource managers on how to communicate technical information effectively to the public, such as during MPA planning processes that involve stakeholders. The advice is from the draft Handbook on Public Participation in International Waters Management, being produced by the International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW:LEARN).
Much discussion on MPAs, and particularly no-take marine reserves, focuses on their benefits: to the marine ecosystem - to research - even to fishermen as insurance against stock collapse, or as a potential source of fish spilling over into fished areas. There are costs from MPAs, too. Some costs, like the potential for foregone catches when no-take areas are placed on fishing grounds, often become a central focus in the planning of new MPAs.
In November 2005, President Tommy Remengesau of Palau challenged his fellow leaders in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean to conserve 30% of their nearshore marine waters by 2020. His "Micronesia Challenge" was intended to help address threats to the region's marine resources, such as climate change, while positioning Micronesia as a global leader in conservation.
Editor's note: Daniel Owen is a barrister at Fenners Chambers in the UK. He specializes in public law relating to use of the oceans. His essay, below, focuses on the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline: the "outer" continental shelf. The term continental shelf has both a legal meaning and a geological and/or geomorphological meaning. It is the legal sense that is considered here.
Handbook available on Marxan good practices
A new handbook describes good practices in the use of Marxan, a popular free software program used as a decision support tool in marine and terrestrial reserve design. Published by the Pacific Marine Analysis & Research Association (PacMARA), the handbook distills the advice of 25 expert users on issues relevant to systematic conservation planning and the use of support tools like Marxan. Although peer-reviewed internally, it is still open to comments and subject to revision. A final version is expected in early 2009.
The effectiveness of watershed management has direct bearing on the scope and scale of challenges we face with marine EBM. Freshwater ecosystems that are degraded or poorly managed contribute in turn to degradation of marine ecosystems, including in the form of altered productivity and loss of ecosystem services. Freshwater systems deliver pollutants to coastal waters, changing the nature of many coastal environments and even affecting benthic and pelagic ecosystems offshore.