announcing ICRS MPA review

Leah Bunce Leah.Bunce at
Thu Jun 28 16:22:18 EDT 2001

I am forwarding the following announcement from Charles Ehler,
Vice-Chair of the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas-Marine
regarding the recent publication of findings from MPA presentations at
the 9th ICRS...

Dear MPA Colleagues,

The World Commission for Protected Areas-Marine is pleased to announce the
electronic publication of "Designing Effective Coral Reef Marine Protected
Areas" by Dr. Michael B. Mascia.  This special report synthesizes the
findings from MPA presentations given at the 9th International Coral Reef
Symposium (Bali, Indonesia) and identifies select policy and management
implications of this research.  The report is available online at:

The executive summary follows.

With kind regards,

Charles Ehler
IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas-Marine

Designing Effective Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas

 A Synthesis Report Based on Presentations
 at the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium
 Bali, Indonesia     October 2000

 Michael B. Mascia, Ph.D.

 Special Report to:
 IUCN     World Commission on Protected Areas-Marine

 April 2001
 Executive Summary

 Coral reef ecosystems provide direct and indirect benefits to millions
 of people around the world.  The long-term sustainability of these
 benefits is threatened, however, by human activities that impact reefs
 and reef ecosystems.  Traditional efforts to manage human activities and
 protect coral reefs have proven inadequate, spurring calls for a more
 ecosystem-oriented approach.  Central to this ecosystem-oriented
 approach to coral reef management is the establishment of marine
 protected areas (MPAs), a family of spatially-explicit marine management
 systems that includes underwater parks, fishery reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries.

 The promise of MPAs as a management tool has yet to be fully realized,
 in part because the science underlying effective MPA development and
 management is poorly understood.  At the 9th International Coral Reef
 Symposium (ICRS) in Bali, Indonesia, dozens of scientists and
 practitioners presented cutting edge research on coral reef MPAs.  This
 report synthesizes the findings from seventy-four ICRS presentations on
 MPAs and identifies select MPA policy and management implications from
 this natural and social scientific research.

 Presentations at the ICRS underscored the scientific uncertainty that
 surrounds the biophysical design of MPAs, but provided some basic "rules
 of thumb" for MPA policymakers.  There was general consensus that MPAs
 should be designated in high quality habitats, either in the midst of
 ocean gyres or in 'upstream' locations.  Results gave little substantive
 guidance regarding the proper size for a functional MPA, though some
 interesting hypotheses did emerge.  Researchers indicated that MPAs are
 more likely to function as relatively independent units than
 interdependent ecological systems, especially over large spatial scales.
  Biological performance was not correlated with the spatial extent of
 coral reef MPAs, suggesting that bigger is not necessarily better.

 ICRS presentations provided valuable insights into the sociopolitical
 characteristics of effective coral reef MPAs.  Presenters stressed that
 MPAs are not a panacea, but rather dependent upon the larger matrix of
 coral reef management initiatives.  If adjacent areas are not well
 managed, MPAs will likely be insufficient to maintain productive coral
 reef ecosystems.  Presenters demonstrated that devolving authority for
 MPA development and management to local governments, user groups, and
 nongovernmental organizations spurs MPA establishment and enhances MPA
 management effectiveness.  Collaborative MPA management structures,
 however, appear to offer the greatest potential for linking national
 resources with local interests and knowledge.

 Presentations regarding MPA regulatory systems identified emerging "best
 practices".  One of the most contentious debates at the ICRS was whether
 MPAs should be "no-take" or permit limited extractive use.  Though there
 was no resolution on this point (the answer seems to be "it depends on
 the situation"), presenters did agree that the rules governing resource
 use within coral reef MPAs must be clear, easily understood, and easily
 enforceable.  Likewise, internal and external MPA boundaries must be
 easily recognized by resource users and by enforcement personnel.

 Presenters generally agreed that MPA decisionmaking must be an adaptive
 and broadly participatory process.  Such processes permit social
 learning, build on diverse sources of knowledge, build trust, and
 enhance the legitimacy of MPA rules and regulations.  Exactly how and
 when participation should occur was a matter of contention.  MPA
 advisory committees were viewed as one appropriate mechanism for ongoing
 stakeholder participation in MPA development and management.  Presenters
 emphasized that mechanisms must be established to ensure that
 stakeholder representatives are accountable and responsive to their
 constituents.  Finally, presenters noted that differences among
 stakeholders with respect to their beliefs (i.e., perceptions of how the
 world works), values (i.e., perceptions of what is good, desirable, or
 just), and interests (i.e., desired outcomes) often hinder MPA
 development and management, reflecting the need for decision-makers to
 agree on process before trying to decide outcomes.

 Discussion of the management and administrative dimensions of MPAs was
 limited at the ICRS.  Presenters noted that devolution of authority for
 enforcement could enhance capacity, and stressed the need to design
 enforcement systems that promote accountability among enforcers and
 appropriate (not draconian) penalties for noncompliance with MPA rules
 and regulations.  Presenters suggested that clear management goals and
 objectives, as well as environmental education and outreach initiatives,
 facilitate effective MPA management.  Research and monitoring were seen
 as critical components of MPA management, and speakers stressed the
 importance of monitoring both biological and social performance
 indicators. Speakers also stressed the importance of collecting baseline
 data, and sampling at multiple spatial and temporal scales, in order to
 inform site development, measure change over time, and provide the basis
 for adaptive management.  Finally, speakers noted that enlisting
 stakeholders in the collection and analysis of research and monitoring
 data educates participants and builds capacity and trust.

 During the ICRS, special emphasis was placed upon the role of no-take
 MPAs in supporting sustainable coral reef fisheries in Southeast Asia.
 Community participation, sustainable financing, enforcement, planning
 and design, and adaptive management were identified as five critical
 challenges to the development and management of MPAs in the region.  At
 an evening workshop sponsored by NOAA, IUCN, and The Nature Conservancy,
 participants identified priority actions that would enhance MPA
 management across the region.  These priority actions included training
 in community-based management, a regional inventory of experiences with
 sustainable financing, the development of model legislation and policy
 frameworks for decentralized enforcement, a regional assessment of
 priority sites for no-take MPAs, and the development of adaptive
 management pilot projects.

 Readers of this report should recognize its limitations.  The scientific
 synthesis presented herein is based on the notes of nine volunteers and
 the author, who used a standard form to characterize seventy-four ICRS
 presentations most relevant to MPA development and management. The
 author synthesized these notes into the report summary, and derived
 policy implications from the report summaries and his personal knowledge
 of the natural and social scientific literature.  These methods may have
 introduced uncertainties or biases into the report.  Furthermore,
 neither the research upon which this report is based nor this report
 itself has been peer-reviewed, and therefore this report does not merit
 the same level of confidence as refereed research.

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