New Year’s Resolutions for the MPA Field: What Practitioners Would Like to Happen in 2013

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The year 2012 was a noteworthy one for the MPA world, both for things that happened (like Australia's designation of an enormous new national MPA system) or, in some cases, did not (like Antarctic managers' failure to designate a Southern Ocean MPA system by year-end, as planned).  In 2012 the World Commission on Protected Areas released new, more restrictive guidelines for what should be considered an MPA - reopening a central discussion with implications for whether and how the field can meet global protection targets.  And the year featured some quirky occurrences, too, like when the UK realized its Chagos MPA was actually 100,000 km2 larger than it had previously thought.

As we turn to 2013, MPA News is introducing a new annual feature: collecting MPA-related New Year's resolutions from practitioners in the field.  Typically, New Year's resolutions pertain to the people making them - a commitment they make to meet a goal or reform a habit in the coming year.  In our case, however, we invited contributors to apply resolutions to any person or group they wished in the MPA world: themselves, managers, a particular elected official, scientists, fishing groups, anyone!  In essence we asked,

What action would you like to see this year in the MPA world, and who should take that action?

The resolutions we received are below.  Do you have your own MPA resolution in mind for 2013?  Please feel free to share it at the bottom of this article!

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Jay Nelson, Director, Global Ocean Legacy Project, Pew Environment Group

A resolution for scientists: Although it is not typical to offer New Year's resolutions for others, this is an opportunity that's hard to turn down!  I would like to see scientists end their use of the term "marine protected area" to describe marine protection from IUCN Category I to Category VI.  As a catchall term, MPA is imprecise, unfocused - and sounds deceptively benevolent to the public.  It is understandable why government officials, who benefit from ambiguity, use the term for virtually any marine protection, no matter how minor.  But it's a mystery why scientists, who otherwise pride themselves on empirical precision, use a term with such a broad range of interpretations as to be virtually meaningless in a scientific context.  Whatever terms are used to describe marine protection, they need to be clear and descriptive.

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Tim McClanahan, Senior Conservation Zoologist, Wildlife Conservation Society

A resolution for practitioners and governments: This year marine practitioners and governments will recognize and act on the recognition that small and short-term fisheries closures are not sufficient for protecting the marine communities and biodiversity that are inherent in their regions.  They will acknowledge that large and permanent wilderness areas are fundamentally different than the common small closure systems.  And they will work with neighboring communities, countries, and international governance bodies to establish large wilderness areas, such that all of the major marine regions have at least one wilderness area where community, regional, and international governance bodies share the recognition and protection.

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Lida Pet-Soede, Head, Coral Triangle Program, WWF

A resolution for the fishing sector: In 2013, I would like to see the fisheries sector collaborating with WWF in designing "MPAs for fish fillets".  In the Coral Triangle, important progress is being made where new MPAs are declared for the purpose of securing food and livelihoods.  Unfortunately, however, few of these are sufficiently designed or implemented to deliver these goals.  No-take zones are not in the right place or of the right size for the optimization of actual fish output, and hardly anywhere is fishing around the no-take zones managed with suitable catch limits and effort restrictions.  As responsible fishing companies enter the arena of sustainable use of our oceans, I would like to see them apply their business acumen to help design and implement additional MPAs that are designed to deliver what most MPAs of the past have promised but unfortunately failed to deliver: more fish.

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Fanny Douvere, Coordinator, UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme

A resolution for marine World Heritage sites: We want the 46 marine World Heritage sites to be drivers for change in ocean conservation worldwide.  For this, we developed a 10-year strategy to ensure that by 2022 every site will have sufficient means to protect its Outstanding Universal Value for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List.  To achieve that, our resolution this year is to attract key strategic partners that can help us deliver this goal.  Marine World Heritage is a story of success.  We are at the beginning of a long route and our ambitions are big - 2013 is a time for action! 

[Editor's note: On 7 February in Paris, the World Heritage Marine Programme is hosting an event to raise visibility and attract new partners, including debuting a short film, "Marine World Heritage: The Crown Jewels of the Ocean", narrated by Jacques Perrin.]

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Blair Palese, Communications Director, Antarctic Ocean Alliance

A resolution for CCAMLR: The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) is calling on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - the body that regulates most marine life in the Southern Ocean - to live up to its commitment to establish a network of MPAs and marine reserves around Antarctica while the region's habitats are still largely intact.  In particular, the AOA is urging CCAMLR to agree on two proposed protected areas: for the Ross Sea (the world's last pristine ocean area) and East Antarctica.  The 25 CCAMLR member countries failed to establish any large-scale marine protection at their meeting last year because some countries actively blocked conservation efforts.  We challenge CCAMLR in 2013 to meet its conservation commitments and preserve this unique and remarkable ocean habitat.

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Mike Weber, Program Officer for Oceans, Coasts, and Fisheries, Resources Law Group

A resolution for communities and stakeholders: In 2013, the existence of large MPAs in remote areas (as in Chagos, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the Phoenix Islands) will be complemented by growing networks of protected areas near densely populated, heavily used, yet ecologically critical, coastal waters (as in the US states of Oregon and California).  The vision is a global movement toward science-based networks of coastal MPAs, designed by stakeholders and stewarded by local communities invested in their success.  These MPAs will be integrated into coastal management and inspire action at all levels of government to improve water quality, ensure sustainable fisheries and promote sustainable coastal use generally.  Fishermen, conservationists, and coastal tourism-based business will recognize the importance of MPAs to a healthy ocean and healthy fisheries, and work together to ensure the success of local protected areas.

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Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson, Director, Science and Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations (www.SCRFA.org), University of Hong Kong

A resolution for Pacific Island governments and the Secretariat for the Pacific Community: My wish is for universal inclusion of fish spawning aggregations in marine protected areas and as an integral part of MPA planning.  Realistically, my resolution for 2013 is that this happens across the Pacific.  Spawning aggregations of many important reef fishes support fisheries that feed and generate income for communities and traders in Pacific Island nations.  Yet lack of management and increasing demand for fish are causing the aggregations to disappear along with the tremendous benefits they bring.  Spawning aggregations are also some of our ocean's most spectacular natural events.  The good news is that many Pacific aggregations are still in good shape and there is time to protect them.  But this requires urgent and strong commitment from the region's government fisheries departments supported by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community.

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Kristina Gjerde, Senior High Seas Advisor, IUCN Global Marine Programme

A resolution for governments and the United Nations: I wish governments in 2013 would support a new agreement for the high seas and deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. A new implementing agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is needed to facilitate the establishment of a representative system of marine protected areas for fully 50% of the planet, set forth baseline standards for prior impact assessments while addressing wider issues of capacity development, technology transfer, and access and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources.  The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is in need of updating to reflect more sophisticated approaches to protecting the marine environment beyond its primary focus on pollution control, while still retaining the structure and wide support that the Convention already enjoys.

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Marie-Aude Sévin and Paul Gouin, Coordinators, Third International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 3), National MPA Agency, France

A resolution for the MPA field: Do not procrastinate!  This applies foremost to ourselves.  Here in France, the final rush has begun to get everything ready for IMPAC 3, opening in Marseille on 21 October and closing in Corsica on 27 October.  But we hope that you, too, can own up to this resolution, because we need your involvement, and quickly.  The Congress is the only MPA-specific platform designed to pool global expertise and know-how, enabling us hopefully to meet our common target of protecting 10% of the Earth's waters by 2020.  So whether you work for an MPA authority, an NGO, a research institute or a sea-related industry, you are bound to have something to learn - and something to contribute.  To make sure you don't miss out on anything, follow our timeline:

•  Mid-March: Connect to impac3.org and discover the program.
•  April 30: Remember the submission deadline and mail in your contribution.
•  June 8: Dress up for World Oceans Day, take photos, and share them with overseas friends at facebook.com/impac3.
•  June 15: Be an early bird - register for IMPAC 3 while the coziest hotel rooms are still available.
•  September: Buy a French (or, alternatively, Corsican) phrasebook.
•  October 21: Be there!

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BOX: ...and one dream for the MPA field

By Joachim Claudet: Editor, Marine Protected Areas: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Cambridge University Press)

I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day our perception of the oceans will change. 

I have a dream that one day marine spatial planning will be aimed at designating areas where uses, and especially fisheries, are allowed, rather than prohibited. 

I have a dream that one day the debate will not be about what should or should not be considered an MPA but rather about the fishing activities that should or should not be allowed within the established marine fished areas. 

I have a dream that one day the management target will no more be "percent area to be protected" but rather the amount of fishing allowed in a fished area to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

I have a dream that one day some policy-makers will share this dream.

Comments

I may be missing some irony here, but this dream sounds like a nightmare - return to the days when fishing occurred everywhere it feasibly could and there were no MPAs? That's how we got into this mess in the first place (see, for example, MEA and IPSO assessments on state of marine ecosystems). Would this dream mean that the management of the total sea area would be focused on designating certain areas for certain fishing activities, with no areas set aside for any other objectives? As to whether the words of the great Martin Luther King for an extremely important cause should be parodied in this fashion, well....

Hi Peter --

I guess there is some misunderstanding here...

But first of all, to clarify something to our readers, let me say that it's not the first time that we don't understand well one another at the very first time, and that we don't necessarily agree once things are better explained. So you might still disagree with my message once I would have shed light on it.

My message is about the dream that all oceans would be wild areas, therefore without the need to establish protected areas, but due to the needs of human development, some fished areas (or dedicated to another use) would be established. The debate would thus be not anymore on the kind of protected areas that should be established but rather on the location and design of the used areas, and on the types of uses that could be allowed within. It builds on Ban's and Vincent's 2009 PLoS one paper (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006258).

As to whether 1963 King's speech can be parodied or not, I will leave this judgment up to you.

Cheers

- Joachim

Hi Joachim

Now it has been clarified that your dream is of a regime where the presumption is that no fishing is allowed, other than in specifically designated fishing areas, I'm pleased to say that we are in complete agreement. Whilst I doubt this will ever become reality, you've got to have a dream!

Cheers, Peter

Moving towards the goal of a marine spatial planning where fishing is not allowed  unless otherwise specified, first requires a fundamental change in most fishermen societies around the world that they have a right to fish and to make a living by doing so.

For the sake of argumentation, I also wonder if such a MSP system would require more or less information and understanding of the ecosystem effects of fishing than the current system. I can easily imagine that marine areas where knowledge of the ecosystems were insufficient would be designated closed to fishing and that would be most of the ocean. It would probably be good for our profession, though.

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