Editor's Note: Bruce Burrows, author of the following perspective piece, has worked as a commercial fisherman on the Pacific Coast of Canada for 20 years. Burrows now serves as fisheries outreach coodinator for the Living Oceans Society, a Canadian NGO, raising the awareness of fishermen on the subject of MPAs. In the following piece, he offers tips to NGOs and other MPA planners on why and how they should work with commercial fishermen. Some of his points echo comments made by Bob Johannes (see Johannes, this issue) in discussing the knowledge of indigenous fishermen. [Burrows's piece is based on a presentation he made at the "MPA Power Tools Conference", White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, October 19-21, 2001.]
The Skimmer & MPA News
In most areas of the world, indigenous peoples can be important stakeholders in the planning and management of marine protected areas, often offering a detailed ecological knowledge of the sea, honed over centuries. In addition, some nations grant special territorial and resource rights to indigenous peoples, empowering them with a direct say in how protected areas are planned and managed.
This month, as part one of a two-part study, MPA News offers insights from two experts -- Gonzalo Oviedo and Bob Johannes -- on issues involved in the participation of indigenous peoples in MPA practice. An MPA News interview with Oviedo and a perspective piece by Johannes appear below. In next month's newsletter, we will examine case examples of MPAs in which indigenous peoples have played a significant role.
The draft Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was adopted on November 6 by the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO. The convention covers activities directed at sunken ships and other "traces of human existence" that have been submerged for at least 100 years (MPA News 3:3). Among parties to the convention, no activity directed at such heritage may occur without a permit. The convention will now be submitted to UNESCO member nations for ratification; if adopted by a two-thirds majority of member nations, the convention will become international law, at least for its signatories. For more information: http://www.unesco.org/culture/legalprotection.
The results of MPA News's reader challenge to name the oldest marine protected area in the world (MPA News 3:3) will be published in next month's issue.
Dear MPA News:
As a matter of general principle, the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council is opposed to the introduction of no-take MPAs unless we can be satisfied that it is demonstrably in the best interests of our members and coastal communities. Locking up areas of marine waters around Tasmania (MPA News 3:4) is an extremely contentious issue, and we have yet to see positive evidence that proves marine reserves actually benefit the commercial fishing industry.
When MPA News was launched two years ago, the editorial board had one overarching goal: to serve the entire community of MPA stakeholders by informing them and bringing them together in discussion, debate, and understanding. This remains our goal, and the editorial board has worked to cover the range of views and knowledge held by stakeholders.
Managers of two world-renowned marine protected areas have enlisted the enforcement assistance of an NGO that has made a name for itself in direct-action efforts against illegal whalers and driftnetters.
In recent months, the Galapagos Marine Reserve (Ecuador) and the Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica) have each teamed up with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for help in patrolling their waters against illegal fishers. Sea Shepherd, a US-based NGO with operations around the world, is perhaps best known for its ramming and sinking of various whaling vessels in the past two decades.
In the Galapagos and Cocos Island, Sea Shepherd is providing a patrol vessel and crew to transport arresting officials in pursuit of illegal fishers. Sea Shepherd is providing its service free of charge to the MPAs; the NGO funds its efforts through public donations.
Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill announced plans in late September to assess the conservation value of 11 marine areas in Australian waters -- the first step toward potential designation of these sites as marine protected areas. The sites include shoals, plateaus, and canyons, as well as a blue whale aggregation site.
The main purpose of the conservation assessments will be to advise the government on whether to proceed with designating each of the sites as an MPA. Hill did not specify the likelihood that each of the 11 sites targeted for assessment would eventually receive formal MPA designation.
Last month, MPA News published the advice of an international group of scientists on how to improve the conduct and use of science in MPA management. The advice came out of a July 2001 workshop on the topic held in Cleveland, Ohio (USA), involving scientists and managers from more than 20 countries. The workshop was directed by the US National Ocean Service, and immediately preceded the Coastal Zone 2001 conference.
Below, MPA News publishes an excerpt of the advice offered by managers at the workshop. Like last month's tips from scientists, the managers' input arose from a brainstorming session at the workshop's end. Managers who contributed to this advice came from 15 countries on 5 continents.
By the Fisheries Society of the British Isles
Concern has been widely expressed about fishery and other impacts on the North Sea, where the spawning stock biomass of most commercially important marine species has been reduced to less than 10% of its unexploited size and many fishery practices may be unsustainable. Besides being a source of mortality for both target and by-catch species, other effects of current fishing practices on stocks such as (i) alteration of the normal age structure, (ii) disruption of reproductive behavior, (iii) reduction in genetic diversity, (iv) habitat degradation and shifts in ecosystem structure, and (v) long-term economic losses are becoming progressively more apparent.
November 4-7, 2001 -- Amsterdam, The Netherlands. "6th International Conference of the Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society." Conference will exchange current knowledge and strategies for assessment of aquatic ecosystem health. Web: www.caos.nl/aehms
November 5-8, 2001 -- Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. "Oceans 2001." Conference will include sessions on marine habitat restoration, marine mammals, coral reefs, pelagics management, and other topics. Web: www.oceans2001.com