Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Caitlyn Toropova announced as the new WCPA - Marine MPA Coordination Officer

Caitlyn Toropova has been announced as the WCPA - Marine MPA Coordination Officer based in Washington DC.

Caitlyn is based at IUCN and works between The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, The World Wide Fund for Nature and WCPA-Marine. Caitlyn started her professional life as a marine mammal biologist, working primarily in behavior and acoustics. After her master’s on grey whale behavior and residency patterns, Caitlyn worked in wildlife filmmaking and eventually founded a company that brought at-risk students into the marine environment to create in-water conservation projects.

Looking to broaden her professional reach she joined the Nature Conservancy as a scientist for the Global Marine Team in 2006. There she was tasked with coordinating work on marine ecosystem based management, ecosystem services and coral reef resilience and undertaking a global shellfish condition analysis.

Her current goals are to implement the Protect Planet Ocean Reviews, the MPA “commitment tracker”, raise the profile of MPAs to increase progress towards the 2012 marine protected areas goal, highlight successes and challenges of MPA network development and implementation at international events, and bring partners together to increase synergies and momentum for implementing marine protected areas globally.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Conservation plans for Chagos unveiled

An ambitious plan to preserve the pristine ocean habitat of the Chagos Islands by turning them into a huge marine reserve on the scale of the Great Barrier Reef or the Galapagos was unveiled at the Royal Society this evening.

The plan were launched in London by the Chagos Environment Network, which includes the Chagos Conservation Trust, the RSPB, the Zoological Society and the Pew Environmental Group, a powerful US charity which successfully lobbied the Bush administration for marine reserves in America.

The British Indian Ocean Territory consists, apart from Diego Garcia, of over 50 tiny coral islands (only 20 square kilometres in all). It is set in over half a million square kilometres of sea in the middle of the Indian Ocean and is administered directly by the UK Government. Only Diego Garcia is inhabited (by defence personnel). The remaining ‘Ilois’ or ‘Chagossians’ were removed when the base was set up in the 1970s; they now live mostly in Mauritius, Britain and the Seychelles.

The Chagos is the United Kingdom’s greatest area of marine biodiversity by far and is probably the most pristine tropical marine environment on Earth. It has the world’s largest coral atoll, its cleanest seas and healthiest coral reefs. The area is a crucial refuge, staging post and breeding ground for marine and bird life. The Chagos provides an extraordinary and rare opportunity to protect the natural environment.

The preliminary proposal outlined this evening is that the British Government, with the support of other organisations, should create a long-term conservation framework and a Chagos Archipelago Conservation Area in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Drawing on best practice in other sites, this would aim to: protect nature, including fish stocks (benefiting neighbouring countries); benefit science, and support action against damaging climate change; be compatible with security; and provide some good employment opportunities for Chagossians and others.

To read more visit the Chagos Conservation Trust clicking here

Thursday, 5 March 2009

2009 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation Announced

We are pleased to announce the 2009 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation. These five individuals, representing Argentina, China, France and the United States, received this year’s Pew Marine Fellowship for their proposals to create marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, reduce illegal poaching of marine wildlife in China, create an international coalition to protect penguin populations and develop multi-media stories to promote conservation of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea.

The 2009 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation awardees are:

· Wen Bo is Pacific Environment’s Beijing-based China Program co-director. His project is designed to address poaching and illegal trade of endangered marine species in East Asia by strengthening community-based conservation efforts.

· Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, Ph.D., is a researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina. Borboroglu will establish the “International Penguin Society,” a coalition designed to strengthen protection through sustainable management of the full range of penguin habitats.

· Matthieu Le Corre, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the University of RĂ©union Island in RĂ©union, France. LeCorre will study seabird foraging patterns to identify oceanic hotspots of biodiversity for the design of high-seas marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean.

· Fiorenza Micheli, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University. Micheli’s project will address management of existing and establishment of new marine protected areas in the Mediterranean through assessment of human threats to the marine ecosystems and their cumulative impacts on deep and shallow Mediterranean reefs.

· John Weller is a photographer and author whose work focuses on communicating the value of pristine places. Weller seeks to raise awareness of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea through the development of “Ocean Channels,” a web-based platform that integrates multi-media narratives with marine and ecosystem research.

The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation funds science and other projects that address critical challenges in the conservation of the sea. Each Fellow receives $150,000 to conduct a three-year conservation project. Since 1996, the Pew Fellowship Program in Marine Conservation has awarded 110 Fellowships to individuals from 29 countries.

Photographs and more information about each of the 2009 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation are available at http://www.pewmarinefellows.org/2009/

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Bahrain Action Plan created to scale-up marine World Heritage Programme

Delegates from around the world and from across the Arabian Seas met last week and agreed to the creation of the Bahrain Action Plan to scale-up activities on marine World Heritage. This Action Plan, which is expected to be available in the next two months, will identify the steps that can be taken at global and regional scales to increase the area of ocean and sea protected as marine World Heritage.

The three-day workshop was held in Bahrain under the patronage of Southern Governor and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife president Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

For the Marine workshop, an internal agreement in Bahrain, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Information, led to have the latter jointly organizing the workshop with the Public Commission for the Protection of the Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife, UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, at Novotel Al Dana Resort Bahrain. It brought together International Union for Conservation of Nature-World Commission on Protected Area (IUCN-WCPA) marine co-ordinators, international experts, individuals and officials.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre programme specialist Marc Patry said "The aim is to safeguard marine natural heritage and use the World Heritage Convention to promote large-scale marine conservation, develop strategic partnerships and strengthen conservation capacity. Marine sites are considered an area of potential for future nominations of world heritage properties in the Arab region.”

The World Heritage Convention is one of many tools for marine conservation – other approaches include measures under the Convention on Biodiversity, Ramsar Convention, Convention on Migratory Species, UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme, UNEP Regional Seas Programme
“199 of the existing 878 heritage sites are listed for their natural values and just 41 protected at least in part for their marine biodiversity values. This workshop has been an excellent opportunity to look at how to scale up action to protect more of the hidden wonders of our oceans and seas” added Prof Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas.

The Bahrain Action Plan from this workshop will be published and presented to the World Heritage Committee who will meet in June this year to assist in the future targeting of marine activities by UNESCO and IUCN.

For access to the presentations and papers for this meeting click here

To see photos from the event visit the home page of Protect Planet Ocean and follow the Face Book link