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Dear MPA News:

As former manager of three US National Marine Sanctuaries (Key Largo, USS Monitor and Channel Islands), I would like to offer the following perspective to the MPA definition discussion that has been proceeding in the "Letters from Readers" (MPA News 3:7, 3:8).

Briefly, unless we have control over pollutants coming in from the land, air and external currents, we are trying to manage the proverbial "submarine with three screen doors". We might have success on the land side, but the air and current sides are often international (as well as large-scale national) problems, and not easily mitigated.

MPA News

New MPA plan for Victoria enshrines compensation of fishermen

In a revision of its plan for a series of marine national parks in state waters, the Australian state government of Victoria has developed a compensation scheme for fishermen affected by the new parks. Under the revised plan, financial assistance would be available to eligible fishery license holders to cover increased fishing operating costs and reduced catches directly related to the MPAs. The plan also calls for creation of an assessment panel to determine compensation amounts and an appeals tribunal.

MPA News

Roughly 80% of international trade is carried by ship. Such traffic carries the risk of groundings, collisions, spills, and other incidents that threaten the ecological health of marine systems. The associated hazards to habitats and wildlife can pose a persistent concern for managers of marine protected areas, particularly those near major ports or shipping routes.

In several cases around the world, MPA practitioners have moved to reduce these threats by implementing focused regulatory instruments, such as shipping lanes, areas to be avoided, or discharge restrictions. But a broader, higher-profile tool remains available - the international designation of sites as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, or PSSAs - offering managers a comprehensive approach to seeking vigilance and awareness from the international shipping industry. Available since 1991, the PSSA tool has so far been approved for just two sites, but more are now in the designation pipeline. This month, MPA News examines the PSSA tool and how some practitioners intend to apply it.

MPA News

Last November at the 54th annual meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, scientists and MPA practitioners convened a workshop to discuss the role of socioeconomic concerns in successful MPAs. Titled "Human System Connectivity: A Need for MPA Management Effectiveness", the workshop addressed gaps in the management of Caribbean MPAs, namely in the development of manager and stakeholder capacity and inter-group communication. Participants, including resource users and NGOs, said filling these gaps would help MPAs to achieve their goals of protection and sustainable resource use.

The workshop report provides a list of tips for how practitioners can fill such gaps. In light of the list's potential usefulness to practitioners both inside and outside of the Caribbean region, MPA News has adapted its highlights below.

MPA News

By Brock Bernstein, National Fisheries Conservation Center

I know a fisherman who doesn't think marine reserves are needed.  He's skeptical of their ability to improve fishery yields and says he just wishes they'd go away.  In spite of that, he's willing to contribute his knowledge to help improve their design and lessen their immediate impacts on fishermen.  But like many others who share both his point of view and his deep knowledge of the ocean, he has been frustrated by a welter of problems that leave fishermen feeling marginalized and even targeted as the movement toward marine reserves gains momentum.

MPA News

Cocos Island update: Poacher fined, forfeits ship In a decision handed down by the supreme court of Costa Rica, the owners of an Ecuadorian longliner, caught in August 2001 fishing illegally in the country's Cocos Island National Park (MPA News 3:4), have been fined US$290,000 for the infraction and have had to forfeit the vessel to authorities. This marks the first time the country has applied vessel forfeiture as a penalty for poaching.

MPA News

The quality of water in a marine protected area plays a major role in the health of that site's underwater ecosystems. MPAs near urban centers or agricultural lands can suffer from runoff of wastes, fertilizers, and other materials that degrade or otherwise alter natural systems. Floating garbage can accumulate in protected areas. Oil from drilling and transport carries the chronic problem of leakage and the threat of spills.

While the global MPA discussion often focuses on extractive activities and their management, threats to water quality can pose just as great a challenge for MPA practitioners. This month, MPA News examines the water quality-related challenges faced by four MPAs around the world, and how practitioners are handling them.

MPA News

Note from the editor: Peter Jones, author of the perspective piece below, is a lecturer in coastal and estuarine management at the University College London (UCL), UK.  In recent conservation agency funded research, he and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of participatory planning processes for marine protected areas in the UK.  Lessons drawn from these processes may be of general interest to MPA practitioners elsewhere, and reflect the importance of building trust and confidence among participating groups.

Jones adapted the piece below from a paper he co-wrote with Jacquie Burgess and Darren Bhattachary of the Environment and Society Research Unit, UCL ("An Evaluation of Approaches for Promoting Relevant Authority and Stakeholder Participation in European Marine Sites in the UK: Final Report to the UK Marine SACs Project", September 2001.  E-mail p.j.jones [at] for a summary of the report).

MPA News

Dear Reader:

An article in the December 2001/January 2002 issue of MPA News -- "Results from the Reader Challenge: Which MPA is the Oldest?" -- sparked responses (including those below) from readers who questioned the definition the newsletter used for "marine protected area". They felt the definition was too broad to be useful.

The definition used for the challenge was that of the IUCN (World Conservation Union), which describes a marine protected area as "an area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect all or part of the enclosed environment." (IUCN, 1992) Based on this definition, MPA News named the Royal National Park, designated in 1879 in New South Wales, Australia, as the oldest existing MPA. The predominantly terrestrial park features some intertidal terrain, from which the taking of mollusks is prohibited.