The seafloor - sandy or rocky; flat or sloped; seamount or canyon - provides the foundation for multiple processes within MPAs, including the distribution of flora and fauna. However, MPA practitioners have generally had only patchy knowledge, at best, of what lies at the bottom of their protected sites, based on information gathered from fishermen, divers, and rough bathymetric data from nautical charts. With an inexact understanding of what's "down there", planners and managers face a real challenge of drawing appropriate boundaries and protecting the habitats they want to protect.
Editor's note: Juan Bezaury Creel, author of the following perspective piece, is an environmental policy associate for The Nature Conservancy - Mexico, an NGO. In this piece, he describes an innovative effort in Mexico to protect the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve from the effects of uncontrolled shoreline development. Underlying the site's protection is an environmental zoning plan (EZP), published in May 2002. In Mexico, EZPs are the legal instrument allowing for integrated coastal management.
By Juan E. Bezaury Creel
Canada passes law to help create representative system of marine parks
In June, Canada passed a bill to facilitate creation of a representative system of "national marine conservation areas", or NMCAs, to be overseen by Parks Canada, the federal parks agency. Although the concept of NMCAs existed previously under national parks law, the new legislation provides clearer guidance for establishing and managing these protected areas.
Dear MPA News:
Bill Ballantine's attempt to clarify terms for marine area conservation falls short of the mark (MPA News 4:1). Terminology has already been pretty much worked out in the past decade. To use the term "reserve" to mean only a fully protected area is not helpful. An area designated a marine reserve in many countries may include a mix of uses within its scope.
The success or failure of a marine protected area often rests on socioeconomic considerations. Humans affect, and are affected by, the natural environment, and society must bear the benefits and costs of marine resource management. Without consideration of social and economic impacts, effective planning and management may be compromised.
Editor's note: Bill Ballantine, author of the following perspective piece, is a marine biologist and senior lecturer at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. Ballantine has advocated the concept of no-take marine reserves since the 1960s, and has been instrumental in the designation of several reserves in New Zealand waters. He was awarded a Goldman Prize in 1996 for his grassroots efforts in support of marine reserves.
Victoria passes MPA legislation
In June, the Australian state of Victoria passed legislation to designate a representative system of no-take MPAs covering roughly 5% of the state's waters. The system will include 13 marine national parks and 11 smaller marine sanctuaries, to take effect November 2002.
Commercial fishermen sometimes suffer financial losses due to the designation of new no-take marine reserves. Their catches may decline, at least in the short term, while trip costs - affected by having to travel to farther fishing holes - may rise. This prospect can lead to opposition to new reserves from the fishing sector.