For a marine protected area to be able to meet its goals, resource users must comply with its regulations. Achieving such compliance from users can be a constant challenge for MPA practitioners. Managers with narrow budgets generally must rely on public-education techniques to build community support for the MPA. Larger budgets allow for greater surveillance and policing.
The Skimmer & MPA News
The Australian state of Victoria should set aside more than 6% of its waters in a network of "highly protected" (no-take) areas to safeguard spawning sites and other important habitats, according to the final report of an advisory council to the state government. Currently, 0.05% of Victorian waters serve as no-take areas.
The report, produced by the Environment Conservation Council (ECC) of Victoria, marks the culmination of an investigative process begun in 1991 by a preceding council. The ECC advises the Victorian government on the use of public lands; its investigation came at the government's request. Its final report incorporates stakeholder responses to a draft that the ECC released in December 1999 (MPA News 1:5).
The field of MPA planning and management may still be young, but its collective body of knowledge is growing quickly, through academic journals, textbooks, conferences, and workshops. Nonetheless, familiarity with the concept of MPAs among other stakeholders -- including policymakers, fishers, and the general public -- is relatively low. While practitioners discuss topics such as mooring buoy placement or self-financing schemes, many in the general public remain unaware that "marine protected areas" even exist.
This month, MPA News examines how various practitioners are attempting to raise public awareness of MPAs for an array of purposes.
In 1984 when Rod Salm and John Clark wrote the first edition of their textbook Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Guide for Planners and Managers, they didn't expect they might still be working on it 16 years later. Yet that edition sold out, as did a second edition in 1989, and with demand for the book remaining high through the 1990s Salm and Clark agreed last year to undertake a third edition.
That edition -- with major revisions to reflect the past decade of developments in MPA practice -- is now available. It is worthwhile reading for practitioners looking for a basic handbook or refresher course, particularly in tropical MPAs.
Thanks to the cover of its original 1984 version, the guide has become known as the "Orange Book". The cover of the new edition is now predominantly blue, but the book's target audience has remained the same: people who find themselves with mandates to plan an MPA or system of MPAs, and who need some basic ideas and approaches to guide them.
The September 2000 issue of MPA News featured an article on the concept of rotating closed areas: that is, alternately closing and re-opening areas to fishing, allowing time for stocks to rebuild after each open season. With managers and researchers around the world beginning to consider the idea, it could represent an emerging trend in fisheries management.
MPA News asked readers to comment on the idea. Below, we've printed three of the letters we received. The first is from Graham Edgar, who was quoted in the September article.
On September 14, Canada's minister of fisheries and oceans endorsed a plan that will make the waters surrounding Race Rocks, a small nine-islet archipelago, the first official marine protected area in Canada. Commercial fishing and most sport fishing will be off-limits in the MPA, which will measure a little less than one square mile, or 2.6 sq. km, in area. Race Rocks is located on the southernmost end of the nation's Pacific coast (MPA News 1:8).
Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) designated Race Rocks in 1998 as one of several "pilot MPAs", part of a strategy to determine whether those areas should be formally designated as MPAs and how they could best be managed (MPA News 1:1).
The consumptive use of wild species is an important aspect of the relationship between humans and the marine environment. For consumption to be sustainable, its conditions must be consistent with conservation.
As one way of fostering those conditions, the concept of rotating closed areas -- alternately closing and re-opening areas to fishing, allowing time for stocks to rebuild after each open season -- has gained the recent attention of some fisheries managers. In the northeastern US scallop fishery, for example, areas that have been closed for half a decade were re-opened this summer for huge catches; the fishery's managers are now considering re-opening the areas every 3-4 years. With managers and researchers elsewhere considering the idea, this could be an emerging trend in fisheries management.
A closed area of the ocean -- even one re-opened cyclically for fishing -- fits most definitions of "marine protected area," including that of the IUCN (MPA News 1:4). The idea of re-opening a closed area to fishing may be unacceptable to conservationists who favor permanently closed areas for the protection of biodiversity. But some managers suggest that such re-openings could be a way of securing buy-in from the fishing industry on the use of various kinds of MPAs.
Home to hundreds of terrestrial and marine species found nowhere else in the world, the small Yemeni archipelago of Socotra has a new zoning plan that integrates the protection of its land and sea environments. Developed through the cooperative efforts of international experts and local stakeholders, the plan aims to ensure the health of Socotra's biologically significant ecosystems while allowing residents to preserve their traditional resource rights against outsiders.
The plan features new protected areas, on land and in coastal waters. Although the concept of "protected area" is still relatively new to residents of the isolated archipelago, the idea of resource protection is not, said Ed Zandri, director of the project. "What we have done is to merge traditional conservation practices with modern concepts and techniques," said Zandri. "The main objective has been to preserve and strengthen the existing balance between people and nature."
In Mexico, a new law has incorporated legal tools to allow the establishment of no-take zones in the country's marine and freshwater bodies, in wetlands, and within the 20-meter federal coastal zone. The General Wildlife Law, passed by Congress in July 2000, has the effect of balancing federal fishery regulations set in 1999, which implemented a predominantly production-centered view of Mexico's marine resources.
Under the General Wildlife Law, the Secretariat of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP) may now establish what are called "aquatic species protection areas" -- no-take zones, essentially. These areas may be established to protect:
The economic study of no-take marine reserves is evolving. Ten years ago, economists largely examined such reserves from the vantage of the fishing industry, and were generally skeptical of their justification. Now, armed with models that are increasingly informed by fish stock biology and concerns about uncertainty, economists are forging a new understanding of the economic and societal values involved in the practice of reserves.
Experts gathered last month in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), to discuss new trends in the study of marine-reserve economics. The conference, "Economics of Marine Protected Areas," sponsored by the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia, offered insights for MPA practitioners on how economists are viewing the field. Several of these insights could assist planners and managers in their work.