The working group of Tortugas 2000 -- a year-long collaborative process to create an "ecological reserve" in the Tortugas region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) -- reached consensus in May on the recommended boundary for a zone in which all consumptive activities would be prohibited. Subsequently approved in June by the official advisory council of the Sanctuary, the recommended reserve is currently undergoing a draft supplemental environmental impact statement, due this October.
The Skimmer & MPA News
Building an ambitious national MPA program from the ground up, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has established six "pilot MPAs" in the past year and has plans for more soon. With an adaptive approach that emphasizes scientific research and the testing of protection strategies, DFO seeks to "learn by doing": through its pilots, it will determine whether the areas should be formally designated as MPAs and how they can best be managed, say officials.
DFO assumed responsibility for coordinating the nation's marine protected area programs in 1997 with the launch of Canada's Oceans Act, and it has moved quickly since then to set aside coastal and deepwater sites. Four pilot MPAs now exist on the West Coast (Race Rocks, Gabriola Passage, Endeavor Hot Vents, and Bowie Seamount) and two off the Maritimes on the East Coast (Basin Head and Sable Gully). Of these six, Basin Head is the newest, announced in June. DFO officials in Newfoundland, Quebec, and Canada's Arctic are expected to announce pilot MPAs in their respective areas in the coming year or two. Draft management plans for the existing pilot MPAs could be ready by early next year.
Continuing its designation of national MPAs at a scale unmatched by other nations, the Australian government's latest endeavor will establish the world's largest no-take zone for commercial fishing, according to national officials.
The Australian government intends to declare a massive marine park around Macquarie Island, southeast of Tasmania in the Southern Ocean, that would span 16 million hectares (160,000 km2), of which nearly a third would be a no-fishing area. Announced in late June of this year, the plan to create the marine park will add yet another site to the country's fast-growing system of major marine ecological regions protected by law. It follows closely on the heels of Australia's designation of other MPAs, including last year's establishment of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park and this year's Tasmanian Seamounts Marine Reserve.
A West Hawaii working group approved in March the proposal for a network of fish replenishment areas (FRAs) in which aquarium fish collection would be prohibited. In an attempt to end a longstanding feud between dive tour operators and fish collectors on the west coast of the island of Hawaii, the multi-stakeholder group voted to set aside a total of nine FRAs, representing 35% of the 150-mile (240 km) West Hawaii coastline.
Aquarium fish collectors boycotted the vote, insisting they had been assured the percentage would be no more than 30% of the coastline. They will be required to abide by the decision, however, which will be incorporated in the state's administrative rules.