"Following a week-long constructive discussion with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and IUCN, the government of Belize agreed to start talks on critical conservation challenges related to the removal of the Belize Barrier Reef from the World Heritage List in Danger."
News and Updates
"The State of Maryland has become one of the first states to take decisive action to address the impacts of ocean acidification. A newly released report issued by a State Task Force outlines the impacts that acidification has on Maryland waters and calls for monitoring, industry partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies to address the threat."
"The Government of Belize through the Cabinet has approved the proposed expansion of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The decision taken to approve the expansion of the reserve was made on February 17th following the completion of minor adjustments made to the original draft proposal. The decision brings the project one step closer to fruition following years of lobbying by marine environmentalists on Ambergris Caye.
The project calls for the expansion of Hol Chan Marine Reserve to include three particular areas. The first is the Mexico Rocks snorkel and dive site area. That area starts north of the Palmero Channel off Ambergris Caye and expands five miles south to Mata Channel and is 1.5 miles wide. It is a total of 8.75sq miles and will take into consideration the coastline sea grass bed area and extend east to where the reef shelf drops off. Within the area there will be a “no-take” zone designated in the middle of the perimeter, which is currently used for recreational activities. The size of the ‘no take zone’ is 1.5 square miles (1 mile running along the reef and 1.5 miles running east to west from the outer fore-reef)."
"In 2009, we (the authors) formed the SAM (Science for Active Management) with the Kenya Wildlife Service to help East African MPA managers and local fishers understand and manage their reefs. When the program started in a single Kenyan MPA, managers had a very low understanding of marine systems, and one MPA had lost many corals. Fishers felt disengaged from MPA management and were not actively managing their fishing grounds. Most people working on the beaches had never been to the MPA and did not know what a coral reef was. Through SAM, managers, fishers, and beach stakeholders received training in marine ecological and social systems and learned to conduct simple, scientifically sound monitoring. Stakeholders were taken to the reefs for the first time. MPA managers and fishers were guided through the process of developing measurable social and ecological objectives for marine systems. MPA rangers (with stakeholders) then started monthly social and ecological monitoring to get data needed to assess objectives and to be aware of changes in the system as they occur.
The results of using science to empower communities have exceeded expectations. Prior to SAM, the MPA social system felt apathetic. Now, when you enter an area with an MPA in Kenya, you can feel the excitement. For four years, rangers have been collecting and analyzing data, and findings are comparable to those of experienced researchers. Rangers now train their peers in monitoring and management techniques, and they have taken major management actions: invasive species were removed from MPA beaches to enhance turtle nesting, corals damaged by fishing are being restored with help from fishers, and the public beach that was covered in plastic trash for decades is spotless!"
"EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) are linked to Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Found in every ocean from the poles to tropical latitudes, these places are home to a rich diversity of species and ecosystems including polar seas, volcanic islands and coral reefs which are highly vulnerable to human impacts and increasingly, the impacts of climate change.
The need to support conservation efforts in these entities has been recognised by the European Parliament which introduced the BEST initiative – ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories’. In 2011 and 2012, 18 projects were funded in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, French Guiana, Greenland, Antarctic and Macaronesia.
Now a consortium of regional knowledge hubs and a central team coordinated by IUCN are developing regional ecosystem profiles and funding strategies within the BEST framework."
"The Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo and the Hon. Minister for Agriculture, Housing, Trade , Lands and Environment, Claude Hogan will Friday sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Waitt Institute to include Montserrat in its Blue Halo Initiative of coastal and maritime preservation and fisheries management. [...]
Under the project, the Government of Montserrat and the Waitt Foundation will collaborate in developing and codifying a Sustainable Ocean Policy for the island, including ocean zoning, sanctuary zones, and fisheries laws and regulations."
"The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the period 2016-2030. Throughout 2014, and in its report issued in June 2014, the Global Ocean Commission has supported the adoption of a stand-alone UN SDG for the Ocean, a proposal also supported by some 90 countries and numerous organisations. A set of ten targets to promote a sustainable and healthy global ocean were endorsed last year by the UN’s Open Working Group on the SDGs, including action to prevent illegal fishing, to identify and establish marine protected areas, to eliminate harmful fishing subsidies, and to mitigate ocean acidification. The Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiation is now set to discuss and adopt indicators by which progress in achieving these targets will be assessed in the next 15 years.
The Global Ocean Commission will work in the coming months to encourage the UN to adopt indicators that can reinforce the ten targets already agreed last year, and help accelerate their implementation. The Commission will be represented in New York on 23-27 March at the meeting where targets and indicators will be discussed.
Click here to download the Commission’s Proposed Elements of Indicators for SDG Goal 14."
"China’s playing Monopoly in the South China Sea—only, instead of building hotels on Pacific Avenue, it’s constructing helipads and, in some cases, whole new islands.
In less than a year, shallow reefs in the Spratly Islands have sprouted white-sand outcrops, sporting what look to be Chinese military facilities, according to satellite imagery published this week by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, a consulting company. The Spratlys are more strategic than they are substantial; under international law, the archipelago could have exclusive claim to the bounteous fishing grounds in the surrounding seas, and to the potentially oil-rich seabed—which may explain why China and five other Asian countries claim the islands."
"This is through their participation in the 11th edition of the Training of Trainers on MPA Management regional course, which is being hosted by the Fisheries Division in St. George’s, Grenada. The 2015 course, gathering the largest number of participants since it was initiated in 1997, includes modules on biophysical characteristics of coastal ecosystems, ecosystem services and threats to their resilience, communication and outreach tools, MPA management operations, research and monitoring, sustainable financing and alternative livelihoods through creation of ecotourism operations, resources for meeting obligations to regional and international agreements, along with a field trip."
"The first and only fully protected marine reserve in Scotland is continuing to provide benefits for fisheries and conservation, according to new research by the University of York.
Backing from the local community has been crucial to the success of Lamlash Bay marine reserve after its creation off the Isle of Arran in 2008, following a decade-long campaign by the local Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST).
The new study, published in Marine Biology, reports on monitoring surveys conducted inside and outside the marine reserve by scientists in the Environment Department at York from 2010 to 2013. Marine reserves, where fishing and other extractive activities are restricted, are being established across the globe, allowing natural ecosystems to recover and flourish."