News and Updates

MPA News

Commercial and recreational fishing should be banned in nearly one third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to protect the range of reef and non-reef species and communities, according to a draft zoning plan released by the Australian Government on June 2. The plan, now out for public comment, would designate 111,700 km2 of the 350,000-km2 marine park as off-limits to fishing, effectively creating the world's largest network of no-take marine reserves.

MPA News

When deciding where to site new marine protected areas, planners often consider the "naturalness" of a location - its relative lack of disturbance or degradation by humans. Reasons for using this criterion vary from economic to scientific, and from ecological to philosophical. In each case, the goal of these planners is to protect relatively pristine sites before significant human-induced change occurs.

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Nations generally hold their coastal waters and submerged lands to be the property of the state, kept in the public trust. As a result, the great majority of marine protected areas around the globe are publicly operated, with government oversight of planning and management. However, there are examples worldwide of MPAs that exist under the ownership of (or long-term lease to) private organizations, and other MPAs are managed through close partnership arrangements between private and public entities.

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Editor's note: Bill Ballantine, author of this perspective piece, is a marine biologist at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. In last month's MPA News, Ballantine outlined a set of scientific principles he described as necessary for the planning of systems of no-take marine reserves (MPA News 4:9). This month, he envisions what the future of marine reserve monitoring and management will be like if those principles are followed.

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Editor's note: Lynne Hinkey, co-author of this perspective piece, is a trainer at the Coastal Services Center of the (US) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She has taught courses on conflict management across the US and has been involved in an array of public processes surrounding marine management issues, including MPAs. Heidi Recksiek, her co-author, coordinates MPA-related training and technical assistance services for the (US) National MPA Center, managed by NOAA.

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International effort launched to protect park rangers

IUCN and the International Ranger Federation (IRF) have co-launched an initiative to address physical threats and violence faced by rangers in protected areas around the world. The "Protect the Protectors" initiative seeks to draw international attention to the increasing dangers faced by rangers - including assaults by poachers, smugglers and other criminal elements - and to enhance ranger safety.

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For scientists who study the larvae of marine species, traditional theory has held that such offspring are relatively passive in their movement, riding ocean currents potentially great distances before settling in a new area of the sea. But recent research on larval dispersal has suggested that for many species, larvae may play a relatively active role in determining their own settlement area. Some larvae may even resist currents in order to stay in local waters, the home range of their parents, establishing a cycle of self-recruitment for the resident population.

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Editor's note: Bill Ballantine, author of the following perspective piece, is a marine biologist at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. He has advocated the concept of no-take marine reserves since the 1960s, and helped promote many of the 18 reserves in New Zealand waters. He was awarded a Goldman Prize in 1996 for his grassroots efforts in support of marine reserves.

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