Friday, 30 October 2009

WCPA - Marine achievements one year on from the World Conservation Congress

It is one year since we held the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. The purpose of this posting is to show the progress WCPA – Marine has made with partners in the last 12 months (October 2008 – October 2009). Major achievments include:

· Launch of the global Plan of Action for MPAs, in three languages, setting out the strategic agenda for WCPA – Marine and MPAs worldwide. This was developed last year through a $100k grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Plan of Action supported by a Business Plan and development of promotional leaflet currently underway (available April 2010).

· Development by IUCN Member organisations and agreement to a new IUCN resolution (4.045) on ‘Accelerating progress to establish marine protected areas and creating marine protected area networks’. This recognises the need for better reporting and accurate tracking of progress and better mapping of MPA achievements, as well as a scaling-up of efforts towards achieving the global MPA targets. It also requests the IUCN Director General to increase efforts and financial support for WCPA activities in this area through the IUCN Programme 2009 – 2012.

· Completion of a comprehensive network of WCPA – Marine Regional Coordinators covering all oceans of the world, and now including a more detailed subdivision for some ocean areas by language or culture, and also including the appointment of country coordinators in some regions. A significant grant application to Packard to support network development was made but unsuccessful at this time.

· Launch of the new IUCN WCPA – Marine guide ‘Building Networks of Marine Protected Areas: Making it Happen’. Consideration of new guides underway for the ‘series’ including via NOAA and others on ‘How is Your MPA Network Doing?’

· Launch of new advice on the application of the IUCN category system to the marine environment as part of IUCN’s major publication Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories.

· Scale-up of marine World Heritage now being implemented following the announcement at Barcelona as a key element of the Plan of Action. Meeting held in Middle East with UNESCO and the Bahrain Action Plan drafted, agreed and then considered by the World Heritage Committee. Work underway to publish the Bahrain plan, to produce a Thematic Review of Marine World Heritage (due spring ’10) and provide new web resources, now all through partnership working with the new UNESCO Marine World Heritage Officer. A significant grant to provide strategic support to existing marine World Heritage sites has been submitted.

· Launch of Google Earth 5.0 including 3D digital ocean and IUCN WCPA – Marine layer with interactive user engagement for c4500 individual MPAs, linked to a comprehensive new web platform for MPAs called Protect Planet Ocean constructed with leading partners in ocean conservation. Provision of significant support to other layers including the production of the fisheries layer with the University of British Columbia. Recent engagement of media partner (the Underwater Channel) to help create films of our achievements in action.

· Development of Protect Planet Ocean Reviews and the MPA Commitment tracker, and in particular creation of the Review process, the production of a draft review for the Mediterranean, preparation for reviews of the Coral Triangle and Caribbean, and supporting analysis of MPA data worldwide. Press packs and fact sheets created and disseminated with partners. A proof-of-concept grant to better represent and outreach those MPAs that are founded more through cultural means than western legislation is pending.

· Agreement on minimum data standards for MPAs with UNEP WCMC which will make ensuring all MPAs provide certain data much easier, helping generate a much more accurate picture of how we are protecting the ocean using MPAs.

· Engagement with the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA) through presentation and attendance at the Korea meeting. At the latter Futures Meeting, held in Jeju Korea, major support for marine via 12 targeted recommendations and 93 in total with some marine/coastal component. Now going through Regional CBD meetings, SBBSTA and COP before recommendations can be amended to new POWPAPOWPA. Continued engagement of WCPA – Marine underway through representation by Regional Coordinators at the regional meetings and via WCPA – Marine being present on IUCN delegations at COP and other major events in 2010.

· Development of training events to support the MPA community in using Google Ocean and PPO in partnership with Google Earth outreach – events held for example in Manado and Washington. Training of [number] of MPA managers to upload their MPA data into the revolutionary open-source platform. Also gaining large amounts of new data via Regional Coordinators and the PPO wiki.

· Updating and uploading of new accurate data on MPAs by users and also significant in kind contributions from Regional Coordinators and others, for example through Reef Base.

· Considerable activities from Regional Coordinators including development of in-region networking, ongoing appointment of country coordinators, and convening of meetings (e.g. WCPA Marine – Australia/New Zealand Region held the second of their 'formal' WCPA-Marine meetings in Adelaide on 6 May 2009; attended by 32 members from around Australia and NZ).

· Lead advisor for IUCN’s input to the White House on the legacy from President Bush protecting significant areas in the Pacific and marine National Monuments. Provision of significant advice for new MPAs around the world including on Chagos BIOT for the UK and the Sargasso Sea with the Bermuda.

· Significant activities via the WCPA – Marine High Seas Task Force headed up by Kristina Gjerde on the roadmap towards High Seas MPAs which include:
o Provision of advice to CBD on improving the PoWPA

o A successful proposal to German government for IUCN/WCPA to faciliate global project on ecologically and biologically significant areas beyond national jurisdiction (CBD EBSA project)

o Meeting with Census of Marine Life Steering Committee to secure partnership in CBD EBSA project. Census of Marine Life, and Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, and Ocean Biogeographic Information System become primary partners in project.

o Meeting with Census of Marine Life Synthesis Group to organize and plan for project partnership activities. Project timeline and action points identified, partnership expanded to include UNEP-WCMC and MCBI.

o Special session at ICES meeting on Deep Sea Science, Governance and Conservation.

o Workshop and special WCPA Marine lunch at International Marine Conservation Congress.

o Duke University workshop June resulting in advice to CBD on identifying ecologically and biologically significant areas beyond national jurisdiction.

o Background report for CBD workshop on identifying EBSAs in ABNJ. CBD expert workshop on EBSAs then adopted key elements of background report on identifying EBSAs in ABNJ.

o Workshop development underway lead by MCBI on monitoring and enforcement of remote marine areas.

· Significant support to partners, such as WWF in development of the Coral Triangle Initiative, including training workshops, development of a portal, and a possible Google Earth virtual tour of the region. Support and advice to Census of Marine Life via presence on the Governing Board of OBIS.

· Development and implementation of IMPAC 2. This was through support to a substantial process led by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the MPA centre in the USA. Report produced. Decision taken to award IMPAC III to France in 2013. Key recommendations from special observers at IMPAC 2 include:

o Countries and their partners need to signifi­cantly and rapidly increase the rate of establish­ing and effectively managing MPA networks and progressing toward the 2012 global goal;

o Major MPA conferences need to be used to ad­vance MPA policy goals, and need to be better choreographed;

o MPAs must be designated and managed to function within an overall framework of sustainable ocean and coastal management; and

o The MPA community needs to better integrate across sectors and disciplines, including build­ing partnerships with communities, local gov­ernments, industry, and other users of the ocean.

· Development of a ground-breaking study on coastal carbon sinks and how these should be better valued in climate discussions and ultimately better protected and managed through MPAs. Report due to be launched end Nov at the PACT2020 meeting in Spain.

· Development of a ground-breaking guide on ocean acidification to support the Copenhagen Climate meeting in December 2009. This plain-English guide for policy advisors and decision makers will be simultaneously available in English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Arabic, branded as EPOCA (European project on Ocean Acidification) which the Vice Chair ‘chairs’ the end-user liaison group (Reference User Group). Other language versions of the guide such as Russian are being considered.

· Innovations with Google and PPO led the way for re-expression of the WDPA into a new, interactive wiki, user-facing system for ALL protected areas in the world. Code-named “Protect Planet Earth”, the launch of the partnership product between IUCN WCPA – Marine and UNEP WCMC set for spring 2010, with revision and update of PPO.

· Work completed with National geographic to launch the live link-up to Belize coral reef – Belize WildCam. Developed with National Geographic, the United Nations Foundations and a Belize resort. World now underway with National Geographic on the Global Action Atlas as a way to engage many more people in our work. Development of partnership working with National Geographic on their oceans campaign.

· Development and launch of Sylvia Earle’s TED award – IUCN now appointed as technical advisor to the wish. The wish directly supports the WCPA – Marine global Plan of Action for MPAs. Currently helping shape the wish, advising on TED Ocean (live-broadcast expedition to the Galapagos involving 100 leaders, Hollywood stars, experts), and launching the scale-up towards 2012 including letters from Vice Chair and Sylvia Earle to 106 world leaders encouraging them to put forward new ‘hope spots’ that we can celebrate with them as part of TED Ocean. Global marketing campaign also under preparation supported by some/all of the +350 offers of support we have from corporations through to inspired individuals.

We have undertaken many other activities during the year, provision of advice and attendance at conference and meetings, input of WCPA marine members into MPA News and MEAM, but the above list should give a good idea of why WCPA – Marine is seen as a world leader in MPA work. We are home to some of the most creative and innovative approaches and support many other projects and processes, which may themselves not be WCPA-Marine tasks, but for which WCPA-Marine (and espec ProtectPlanetOcean) facilitates a useful exchange of info/ideas across the globe (eg. like the GBR Outlook Report). We hope that all this will lead to a much better protection of the ocean throughout the world.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Transfrontier marine park a first

Africa's first - and largest - transfrontier marine conservation area has been established, connecting Maputaland in South Africa's World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with Mozambique's first marine conservancy, the Ponto de Ouro Marine Protected Area.This creates a vast protected marine area covering 300km of unbroken coastline and near-pristine beaches, from St Lucia in the south to Mozambique's Maputo Special Reserve.It is made up of 220km on the South African side and 80km in Mozambique.The Mozambique protected area of 678 square kilometres includes Inhaca and Portuguese islands, the Maputo Special Reserve, and stretches three nautical miles out to sea.

The site is an important feeding area for turtle. Additionally, Mozambique has lodged an application for its protected area to be declared a World Heritage Site, just as neighbouring iSimangaliso is. iSimangaliso was awarded this status in December, 1999, on the basis of its biodiversity. It is also the largest significant breeding place for leatherback turtles in Africa.If Mozambique's application to Unesco is successful, it, along with iSimangaliso, would form Africa's first Transboundary Marine World Heritage Site, said Andrew Zaloumis, iSimangaliso chief executive and chairman of the Ponta do Ouro/Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Task Team. The Ponta de Ouro Protected Marine Area is considered one of eight key biodiversity sites (seascapes) of global importance within the Eastern African Marine Ecoregion (EAME), according to the submission to Unesco by the Mozambican National Directorate for Culture. In its statement of "Justification of Outstanding Universal Value", the Unesco submission describes the Ponto de Oura Protected Marine Area's coral reefs as among the highest latitude coral reefs in the world, with characteristics that make them unique, says the submission.

It has taken five years for Mozambique to proclaim the protected area. "The reef complex, located in the central area (Ponta Dobela to Ponta Techobanine), is considered the best in southern Mozambique and (is) of unique value in the country."Considerable recruitment source of coral larvae for the iSimangaliso coral reefs to the south, fish associated with these reefs are also highly diverse, with about 400 recorded species". The site is an important feeding area for turtle, dugong and migratory birds, such as whimbrel and flamingos. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles nest along the beaches from October to January between Inhaca Island and Ponta de Ouro. Cites-listed species requiring special protection include the turtles as well as dugong, whales, white and whale sharks, and some bird species. It is also the northern limit of migration for Southern Right whales.It has taken five years for Mozambique to proclaim the protected area, because it initially did not have relevant legislation in place, said Zaloumis. Activities such as commercial fishing, fishing on coral reefs and fishing with explosives are now banned. Driving on the beaches is also prohibited. However, recreational fishing - under strict controls - will be permitted.

The Mozambique tourism minister, Fernando Sumbana, said in a statement: "This is a vital step in protecting marine turtles that nest in high densities along the pristine beaches of the Maputo Special Reserve, other rare or endangered species, marine mammals and ecosystems."

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

An Irish Example

The UK government has once again stepped up its commitment to marine protection. Over the next few years, parts of the Irish Sea will be given environmental protection as the UK government is committed to establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas by 2012 - as part of the Marine Bill.

The Irish Sea Conservation Zones (ISCZ) will to help secure a healthy and productive future for the coast and waters of the Irish Sea.

The purpose of the ISCZ is to help the people who use the Irish Sea make recommendations to the government. It is the first time this stakeholder led process has been practised in the UK to help identify marine areas of protection.

The recommendations from users of the Irish Sea will form an essential part of the government’s decision as to which parts of the Irish Sea will be protected and how. The recommendations will go to government in June 2011.

The network of Marine Protected Areas in England will be made up of five different types of site:
Marine Conservation Zones
Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Special Areas of Conservation
Special Protected Areas
Ramsar Sites

The network will conserve rare, threatened and representative species and habitats to conserve or improve biodiversity.

The Regional Marine Conservation Zones Projects have been set up by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones to Government.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Bluefin Tuna: Endangered Species

The United States announced last week that it will seek the strongest possible management for the conservation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, sending a clear and definitive statement to the international community that the current status quo is not acceptable.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator announced in a statement that the U.S. strongly supports Monaco's proposal to list Atlantic bluefin tuna under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – a move that would still allow fishermen to sell bluefin domestically but would protect the species from high-seas fishing and international trade.

In addition, Lubchenco reassured the marine conservation community that the U.S. would apply pressure at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting, which is to be held in Brazil in November, to establish management measures that will put an end to overfishing and set responsible science-based quotas that will allow tuna stocks to recover. The United States will consider amending or withdrawing support for the Monaco proposal if ICCAT adopts significantly strengthened management and compliance measures.

"Stocks of both western and eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna have been reduced by overfishing such that they are unlikely to recover unless swift and strong action is taken to reduce overfishing,” explains Dr. Bruce B. Collette, Chair of IUCN’s SSC Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group. “Although western and eastern Atlantic stocks have separate spawning areas (Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea, respectively), movement back and forth between the eastern and western Atlantic means that the population in the western Atlantic is partially dependent on the eastern Atlantic stock.”

The action of both the departments of Commerce and Interior shows just how serious they consider the problem to be and their commitment to leading the charge in regulating the global approach to fishing. Dr Lubchenco concluded by saying, “Improving international fishery management and ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are high priorities for the United States government, Congress, commercial and recreational fishermen, and conservationists”.

Read more in the LA Times:

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Impacts of Pacific Tsunami on marine environment and MPAs

Damage caused by the Tsunami that struck Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga on the 29th September is still being assessed. Preliminary casualty figures are at least 135 people on the main island, Upolu, in Samoa, 32 in American Samoa and nine in Tonga.

The immediate human tragedy is exacerbated by the probably long term repercussions; in Samoa the worst affected areas are on the South coast with at least 4 resorts wiped out and severe damage to fishing grounds expected.  First reports, from American Samoa,  suggest severe structural damage to coral reefs around the tsunami impacted areas with large amounts of debris with moderate to minimal damage in other areas.

With specific regard to MPAs, the jewel in the crown of Samoa’s MPAs, Aleipata, is in the worst affected area but the south coast had over 20 other fisheries MPAs as well as the large Safata MPA for which we have no reports yet. The National Park of American Samoa has been hard hit and information is not yet available regarding the status of other MPAs such as Fagatele located on the South coast. 

The images below show Lalomanu Seaside Village in Aleipata MPA, Samoa, before and after the tsunami, an area that was one of the core "no-take" zones that was heavily used for tourism. The beach is completely gone, and extensive reef damage is expected due to sediments and sand being washed away. 

Lalomanu Seaside Village in Aleipata MPA, before (top/left) and after (bottom/right) the tsunami. Photos: Sue Taei

There is no more concrete info on the coral reef or MPA damage for Samoa or Tonga but in American Samoa we have the following:

" An advisory group on American Samoa’s coral reefs says anecdotal reports on the impact of last week’s tusnami show extensive structural damage in some areas.

The Coral Reef Initiative’s co-ordinator, Jeremy Goldberg, says teams of divers have been inspecting the reefs and he expects to be able to issue a report on their condition within the next couple of days.

He says the territory’s renowned for having some of the Pacific’s most pristine and resilient coral, with five times as many species as Hawaii.

Mr Goldberg says clearing the reefs of debris quickly is crucial to prevent it from causing more damage as it’s moved by wave action.

    “Some of the anecdotal evidence coming in is that there has been a tremendous amount of structural damage done to a few of the coral reefs around some of the heavily impacted areas. Large amounts of debris have been seen on some of the reefs. But it’s looking like the damage is moderate in most places and even minimal in some habitats so that’s a good sign.”

Jeremy Goldberg of American Samoa’s Coral Reef Initiative.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand"

For more information on regional impacts of the Tsunami, contact IUCN WCPA-Marine's Melanesia Regional Coordinator, Hugh Govan

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sylvia Earle and IUCN Invite World Leaders to Celebrate and Extend Ocean Protection.

Monday, 5th October, 2009, Washington DC (IUCN)

Today legendary underwater explorer and ocean ambassador Sylvia Earle teamed up with IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas in a historic move to send individual letters to 106 world leaders inviting them to join Sylvia in her wish to better protect the world’s oceans.
Watch exclusive coverage of this event online at The Underwater Channel:

Sylvia Earle is one of three recipients of the coveted 2009 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Award which grants awardees a ‘wish to change the world’. Sylvia’s one wish is to establish more ‘hope spots’ – Marine Protected Areas – to support ocean life, people and the natural unseen systems on which our day-to-day lives depend.

The idea of writing these letters is stimulated by the fact that some leaders have already stepped-up to champion ocean protection, making dramatic and significant announcements that have resulted in a measurable increase in the area of sea protected. These countries include the USA, France, South Africa, Australia, and the Coral Triangle Initiative nations (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands).
“I am delighted to be directly connecting to these leaders who really can make a difference and who by their actions can quickly improve how we protect our ocean. In spring next year we will have a major celebration of my ‘wish’ and I very much hope we can show new progress by highlighting globally those leaders who have made the latest commitments, and show everyone what they as individuals are doing for the oceans,” Sylvia Earle said. “Given the critical range of pressures on the seas there has never been a time like this when we have needed to act in such decisive ways and connect ocean issues to the broader public. By taking new actions as individuals, world leaders can achieve both those goals in one go and also leave a personal legacy from which we will all benefit in future years,” she added.

Co-signing the letters is well known British biologist and ocean conservationist, and Marine Vice Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas, Dan Laffoley. “Most nations of the world have already pledged through the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2002 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development to use networks of Marine Protected Areas to help safeguard the blue heart of our planet” he said. “I am delighted that we are working with Sylvia Earle in this way to provide that process with a significant positive boost in 2010”.
Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme added that “The ocean is our life support system and we are seeing more and more evidence of the deteriation of habitats and species as a direct result of our daily activities. But there is cause for hope. In recent years we have witnessed impressive pledges from around the world to step up the protection of the ocean. These personal leadership commitments have been crucial in moving things and putting the plight of the ocean on the international agenda. “

Each of the individually written and signed letters was sent out today, and by April next year it is hoped that new commitments made by leaders will be highlighted and celebrated as part of a TED Ocean event. The seven-day TED conference will take place on a ship in the Galapagos Islands. Speakers, all focused on the oceans, will range from marine scientists and ocean explorers to musicians and artists to environmental activists. All talks will be streamed live to the world for free. The ultimate goal is to have policy makers and citizens alike understand the necessary action steps needed to create more marine protected areas and to engender the conviction to take them.

Watch Sylvia and Dan as they sign the letters and discuss their inspiration behind this initiative and what they hope they will achieve courtesy of The Underwater Channel:

For Video Embed: about the oceans and UWC go to: