Sunday, 29 November 2009

Changing Oceans Expedition on CNN. How climate change affects our oceans

In the run up to Copenhagen, there is a lot of talk about the destruction of forests and air, about carbon trading and clean energy, but very little about the impact of our oceans and climate change. In our oceans, climate goes well beyond melting ice caps and endangered polar bears in the North Pole. Our seas are acidifying at unprecedented levels and the Mediterranean is being invaded by tropical, alien species. The oceans make up 80% of the surface of our planet and provide 70% of the oxygen we breathe. All around the world, our oceans and seas are getting warmer and more acidic, but because we can't always see what is happening under the surface, researchers and scientists are worried that the risks to our oceans will be forgotten in Copenhagen. Experts from the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and from the research team on board the Changing Oceans Expedition are worried that the oceans are being forgotten in Copenhagen. They call for urgent action before it is too late. Unprecedented footage of underwater volcanic activity was filmed on board Fleur de Passion in the Aeolian Islands where scientist study the future conditions of our blue planet.

See the film at:

Monday, 16 November 2009

Register now! European MPA Conference, December 8/9th, 2009, London, UK

‘Sea change: securing a future for Europe's seas’ is a International Marine Protected Areas (MPA) conference organised by Natural England in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and supported by The Crown Estate, Royal Haskoning and the Countryside Council for Wales. It will be held in the centre of London on 8 & 9 December 2009.

The conference is designed to stimulate debate and collaboration amongst European countries to ensure that we work together to deliver a successful network of MPAs, regardless of administrative borders. This conference offers a compelling programme of presentations, panel discussions and workshops. The UK Government Minister responsible for the marine environment, Huw Irranca-Davies MP, will address the event. Speakers are coming from Denmark, The European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA.

Special conference rates are available for charities and students.

For details see

Thursday, 12 November 2009

South Orkneys MPA - a new Antarctic MPA!

We very much welcome recent news of the approval of a new marine protected area, south of the South Orkney Islands in the Antarctic Peninsula Region. It covers a large area of the Southern Ocean, in the vicinity of the South Orkney Islands (see map below). The proposal put forward by the UK was adopted by the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) at its meeting last week in Tasmania.

The marine protected area, the result of four years of development work, is just under 94,000 square kilometers, which is more than four times the size of Wales.  No fishing activities and no discharge or refuse disposal from fishing vessels will be allowed in the area, which will allow scientists to better monitor the effects of human activities and climate change on the Southern Ocean. The marine protected area is expected to be in force in May 2010.

This is an important step towards the establishment of networks of protected areas that will allow for the better conservation and management of marine areas and their living resources. It also provides necessary support for the protection of the marine environment in this area and promotes Antarctica as an area reserved for peace and science.

Both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Australian Antarctic Division websites contain additional information.

Image : UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office;

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Don’t shun the ocean – IUCN tells climate leaders

Check out a brand new report from IUCN: "The Ocean and Climate Change - Tools and Guidelines for Action"

The publications provides a holistic view in terms of the marine mitigation and adaptation strategies that are available while outlining a clear set of action recommendations for policy decision-makers.

The report includes a section dedicated to MPAs as part of an integrated Ecosystem-based Adaptation approach to climate change. Action recommendations include:

  • Significantly increase the size and number of fully protected areas to allow ecosystems to recover their full suite of services.
  • Increase effectiveness of existing MPAs and ensure proper implementation of new MPAs.
  • Develop management plans for multiple use areas that increase the resilience of impacted marine and coastal ecosystems and maintain areas that have not yet been adversely affected.
  • Protect multiple replicates of marine habitats/ecosystems to prevent biodiversity from being lost as a result of isolated disturbances.
  • Encourage connectivity synergies between coastal and marine ecosystems by protecting ecological corridors such as those connecting mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.
  • Establish “Predictive Protected Areas,”which provide some level of protection for areas expected to be future refugia and areas that have demonstrated some resilience to the effects of climate change.
  • Create limited-use buffer zones for transitions between fully protected and open access areas.
  • Develop and implement new, creative enforcement mechanisms, e.g. locally empowered enforcement processes.
  • Incorporate a wide range of stakeholders into MPA design, implementation, and enforcement to ensure ownership and commitment to the projected outcomes of the product.

Download the full report:

Executive Summary:

Marine Conservation Society and The Co-operative map out marine 'Jewel in the Crowns' for the UK

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and The Co-operative Group yesterday (10 November) unveiled suggestions as to where more than 70 new marine protected areas should be considered as a priority in the UK.

The sites have been identified following six years of surveying work carried out by divers around the UK, and represent “the Jewels in the Crown” of UK marine wildlife sites. The recommendations would increase the amount of UK seas protected in marine reserves from just 6km2 to 212km2.

In UK seas there are 22 species of wildlife considered to be facing the threat of global extinction. Once common species such as common skate and Atlantic halibut are now listed as endangered, and only eight of the 47 fish stocks found around the British Isles remain in a healthy state.

Under the new Marine and Coastal Access Act, due to become law later this week,
the Government will have a ‘duty’ to designate marine conservation zones (MCZs), which will include a range of protection levels including ‘no take’ marine reserves closed to damaging activities such as commercial fishing and dredging, and has committed to introduce a network of these MCZs by 2012.

Last month, more than 527,000 Co-operative customers (over 80 per cent of participants) stated they supported the introduction of marine reserves in a survey conducted via chip and pin pads at the checkouts of more than 2,400 Co-operative food stores throughout the UK.

Miranda Krestovnikoff, BBC Coast Presenter, who is unveiling the proposed sites in London today, said: “For far too long, we have left our valuable, living seas open to any and every form of exploitation. I've dived with survey divers, gathering records of the rich but fragile wildlife that occurs in our seas. Marine reserves are needed – they really do allow wildlife to recover and thrive.”

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Biodiversity Policy Officer said: "Our 73 recommended reserves would help protect a spectacular array of nationally important marine life and habitat, which many would be surprised to find in UK seas, from vibrant cold water corals to rare seahorses to giant basking sharks.”

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at The Co-operative, said: “We applaud the new Marine and Coastal Access Act and the duty it places on Government to introduce marine reserves, something our customers strongly support and the science demands. Arguably, these 73 sites are the jewels in the crown of our inshore waters and require consideration as a priority under the new Act.”

Even the 73 recommended marine protected areas would increase the percentage of UK seas that are fully protected from 0.005% to just 0.13%. MCS and The Co-operative are calling for 30 per cent of UK seas to be designated as marine reserves by 2020, which scientists say is required if fish stocks and the marine environment as a whole is to recover from decades of overfishing and habitat destruction.

The public is being asked to vote for the sites they would like to see protected at the MCS ‘Your Seas Your Voice’ website – accessed via

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Consultation to protect British Indian Ocean Territory

David Miliband launched a public consultation to establish a Marine Protected Area in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) on Tuesday 10 November.

The proposal was put forward by the Chagos Environment Network and if successful would create one of the world’s largest marine protected areas.

Read the statement

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband):
The Government is today launching a public consultation into a proposal put forward by the Chagos Environment Network to establish a Marine Protected Area in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The Chagos Environment Network’s proposal “The Chagos Archipelago: its Nature and the Future” advocates the creation of one of the world’s greatest natural conservation areas and is a remarkable opportunity for Britain to create one of the world’s largest marine protected areas and double the global coverage of the world’s oceans benefiting from protection.

The purpose of the consultation is to seek views from stakeholders and interested parties to help the Government assess whether a Marine Protected Area is the right option for the future environmental protection of the Territory and we are, therefore, strongly encouraging as many people as possible to participate in the consultation.

We are also arranging for a facilitator to travel to Port Louis and Victoria early next year to listen to the views of the Chagossian communities and other stakeholders in Mauritius and Seychelles. The consultation will run until 12 February 2010.

Copies of the consultation are available on the UK in the Seychelles British High Commission website and are being disseminated widely to interested groups.

How to respond

The consultation period will begin on 10 November 2009. It will run until 12 February 2010. There will be meetings in Port Louis, Mauritius and Victoria, Seychelles between 21 January and 9 February (exact dates to be advised later). There will also be a meeting in the UK. These meetings will be organised by an independent facilitator who will record all the views expressed.
Alternatively, you are welcome to respond by post or e-mail. Please ensure that your response reaches us by 12 February. If you live overseas and intend to respond by post, please ensure that your response reaches us no later than 12 February.

You may respond to this consultation in the following ways:

(i) Write to: BIOT marine protected area consultationOverseas Territories DirectorateForeign and Commonwealth OfficeKing Charles StreetLondonSW1A 2AH

(ii) E-mail your response to: