News and Updates

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Posted on August 14, 2014 - 4:17am, by nwehner

Via The Tico Times

"An increase in the number of whale-watching tours in southern Costa Rica’s Ballena National Marine Park has prompted officials from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) to increase monitoring and regulation in the area.

A large number of tourist boats could threaten the presence of whales, dolphins, stingrays and sharks in the park, located near Uvita on the Pacific coast, environment officials said. Biologists consider the protected area a perfect location between the northern and southern hemispheres for the birth of new generations of marine mammals and other species.

On their arrival, whales enter into a trance, and any abrupt change to their natural habitat could cause them to migrate to other areas with less suitable conditions for giving birth to calves – a direct threat to their species, biologists say."

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 14, 2014 - 4:12am, by nwehner

Via KeysInfoNet

"An end to anchoring inside protected areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will be among questions reaching the sanctuary's advisory council Tuesday in Key Largo.

The Sanctuary Advisory Council will debate recommendations from its Ecosystem Protection Working Group, which spent months reviewing existing boundaries and rules at the sanctuary's no-take areas along the reef tract.

"There were a lot of very tough issues before the group, some of which were   resolved and some were not," council Chairman Ken Nedimyer said a message to members this week. [...]

"The problem is that once we lose [a fishing area], we've lost it forever," Key West Charter Boat Association President Richard Gomez said at a July meeting. "We fight [the sanctuary] tooth and nail because when we know we're done, we're done.""

Posted on August 14, 2014 - 3:20am, by nwehner

The Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning — Advancement Training (CMSP-AT) team is conducting a survey to address planners' needs in translating the previously-offered in-person trainings to an online curriculum.

For the purposes of this survey, they are defining "coastal manager" as an individual whose professional occupation is focused on balancing the protection, restoration, conservation and management of coasts or coastal resources in a manner that fairly allocates and uses coastal resources while maintaining these areas and resources sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations. If that's you, then you should participate in this survey!

Please take the survey at

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 11, 2014 - 11:25am, by nwehner

Via The Jakarta Post

"Raja Ampat – which literally means “four kings” and consists of four big islands: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, and hundreds of smaller ones – covers an area of 4.5 million hectares, with coastlines that stretch for a total of 4,869 kilometers. Almost 80 percent of the territory is covered by water and only 35 of the larger islands are home to some 60,000 people.

According to the Nature Conservancy (TNC), Raja Ampat is home to around 75 percent of all known coral species, 1,470 reef fish and, still counting, eight types of whales and seven types of dolphins.

The mangrove forests boast uniquely soft corals that grow in various colors, while its beaches have become hatching grounds for the green turtle and the endangered hawksbill turtle.

However, the wealth of Raja Ampat’s sea has been jeopardized due to overfishing and destructive fishing."

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 11, 2014 - 11:06am, by nwehner

Via Maritime Journal

"Arran islanders and the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) have welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that the south of Arran, UK is now a marine protected area (MPA). The South Arran MPA is unique in being the only MPA proposed and developed entirely by a local community group, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST).

The South Arran Nature Conservation MPA was designated as part of a Scotland-wide network of 30 MPAs including two more in the Clyde. Arran’s MPA aims to protect and restore sea grass and maerl beds as well as many other sensitive habitats and species which have functional importance as fish nurseries and breeding grounds. COAST has claimed that Arran’s marine ecosystems are being severely degraded by fishing practices such as scallop dredging and bottom trawling."

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 11, 2014 - 11:02am, by nwehner

Via Center for American Progress

"The area’s remoteness makes it a challenge to enforce even the existing fishing prohibitions. Yet, expanding the boundaries is not likely to make enforcement more difficult. The U.S. Coast Guard already uses satellite monitoring, regular patrols, and partnerships with the U.S. Navy to ensure foreign vessels are not fishing illegally in waters that remain open to American fishermen. And while these activities are critically underfunded, monument expansion may actually make their job easier in some ways. If all fishing is banned throughout the EEZ, any vessel transiting the area with fishing gear deployed would be engaging in illegal activity—there would be no need to identify the vessel’s nationality.

Regardless of the challenges, these areas are worth protecting. As development pressures increase, industrial activity is expanding to the most remote parts of the globe. Nations are drilling for oil beneath the Arctic ice and in ultradeep water. Seabed mining will soon become a reality elsewhere in the Pacific. It’s not just paranoia or wishful thinking—depending on one’s perspective—to foresee a time when extractive industries could target subsea resources in fragile U.S. waters in the remote Pacific Ocean. Such activities present grave threats to these ecosystems, which are already suffering as a result of ocean warming and acidification."

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 8, 2014 - 3:25pm, by nwehner

Via The Visayan Daily Star

"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Negros Oriental is pushing for the immediate rehabilitation of damaged coral reefs in the Apo Island of Dauin town in the province, a government press release said.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer, Charlie Fabre, said the Protected Area Management Board, the Silliman University, and the Dauin government are working to restore the Apo Island's marine sanctuary that was severely damaged by typhoons Sendong in 2011 and Pablo in 2012."

Community Updates - External Link
Posted on August 8, 2014 - 1:45pm, by nwehner

Via The Jakarta Post

"Against the backdrop of the Java Sea, Indonesia’s president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo delivered his first speech after officially being declared winner of the recent election. Amid all the talk of renewed unity after what was a bitter campaign, one bold statement went largely unnoticed.  

Yet it was an important sign of intent from our new leader.  Indonesia’s rich maritime resources, Jokowi confirmed, would be the focus and foundation of future development in Indonesia."

Blog series logo
Posted on August 8, 2014 - 10:55am, by cmwahle

By Lauren Wenzel, Acting Director, NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center, Silver Spring, Maryland

Maybe it’s all those summer reading lists that draw me in every summer to distant places and terrific characters. But it seems like a good time to appreciate some of the many great novels that are set in and around our nation’s marine protected areas. Social scientists are now documenting what writers have known for centuries – telling a compelling story is the best way to help people understand and engage in an issue. 

Not that these stories preach about marine conservation. Fortunately, these authors know that’s not the way to get our attention. Rather, they show us how individuals interact with specific places – and how these places work their way into our memories and hearts.

Here are a few suggestions for summer reading --- we’d love to hear your ideas and comments too.