[Coral-List] Marine Priority Conservation Areas: Baja California to the Bering Sea

Sara Maxwell Sara at mcbi.org
Tue Jun 7 13:01:47 EDT 2005

Apologies for cross-postings.

For more information and to download the report, please visit www.mcbi.org or www.cec.org.


MCBI Releases Marine Priority Conservation Areas: Baja California to the Bering Sea: 
The first scientifically-based book to identify the most important places to conserve along a vast stretch of ocean basin.

SEATTLE-On the eve of World Ocean Day, Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI) and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America have released Marine Priority Conservation Areas: Baja California to the Bering Sea, highlighting the 28 most important places to protect along the North American coastline from the edge of the Arctic Ocean to the Tropical East Pacific.  Marine experts consider these areas essential to safeguarding the biological diversity of the West Coast of North America.

The authors are MCBI Chief Scientist Lance Morgan, MCBI Conservation Scientists Fan Tsao and Sara Maxwell, former CEC Staff Member Tara Wilkinson and former MCBI Conservation Scientist Peter Etnoyer.  The book and an accompanying map cover a vast region - encompassing nearly the entire migratory route of gray whales - governed by three nations.  Through this book and map, MCBI and CEC have both produced a model for doing marine conservation at a continental scale and a framework for the first cooperative efforts in marine conservation among Mexico, the USA and Canada.

In the past, nearly all conservation efforts had one of three foci: 1) stopping activities that harm living things everywhere (e.g., banning DDT); 2) protecting particular species (e.g., recovering whooping cranes); or 3) protecting particular places (e.g., declaring the Florida Everglades a National Park) without much reference to their connections with others.  Famed conservation biologist and MCBI Board Member Michael Soulé began to urge conservation scientists working on land to work at a much larger scale-a continental scale-starting in 1991.

In 2000, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America-an international governmental organization concerned with shared environmental issues faced by the three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement-asked MCBI to determine the most important Pacific North American marine species of common conservation concern and the most important places needed to conserve them and other species along this vast coastline.

With funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Edwards Mother Earth Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund and software donations from the ESRI Conservation Program, between 2001 and 2003 MCBI held four scientific workshops to do this, involving nearly 200 scientists from Canada, Mexico and the USA.  In Marine Priority Conservation Areas: Baja California to the Bering Sea, MCBI and the CEC have synthesized their expert recommendations. Together, these Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) constitute some 8% of the Exclusive Economic Zones in Baja California to Bering Sea waters.  Scientists and conservations from non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and the governments of the three nations have worked together to identify these 28 areas identified as marine conservation areas of international significance.

"For the first time, leading marine scientists on this coast have identified the crown jewels of a marine region on a continental scale. And for the first time, the three governments have pledged to work together to create an interconnected system of conservation areas based on these regions," said MCBI Chief Scientist Dr. Lance Morgan, the book's lead author.

"The selection of this set of marine conservation areas is a major achievement," says Dr. Elliott Norse, President of MCBI. "Never before have we seen an international, scientific effort to map out marine conservation priorities at this scale."

The book is to be released by the Commission on Environmental Cooperation on June 6, during Oceans Week.  The associated map, B2B: A Blueprint for Conservation from Baja California to the Bering Sea, illustrates the 28 PCAs in the context of existing marine protected areas.  It also highlights three migratory species that are currently the focus of multi-national conservation efforts: the humpback whale, the pink-footed shearwater and the leatherback turtle. All three were chosen last year for the first North American Conservation Action Plans, which are intended to establish a common conservation approach across the continent to reduce threats, share expertise and provide key information to the public and wildlife officials.

The map and 132-page book are available upon request from CEC while supplies last. An online version of the book and map can be downloaded at www.mcbi.org or www.cec.org.

Marine Conservation Biology Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the science of marine conservation biology and promoting cooperation essential to protecting and recovering the Earth's biological integrity.  Founded in 1996, it is headquartered in Redmond WA, and has offices in Glen Ellen CA and Washington DC.

Go to www.mcbi.org for more information on this and other MCBI projects, publications and staff.

Sara Maxwell
Conservation Scientist
Marine Conservation Biology Institute
15805 NE 47th Court
Redmond WA 98052 USA
425.883.3017 (fax)

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