[Coral-List] Seaward MPA boundaries | Chagos MPA

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Mon Nov 1 06:56:32 EDT 2010

Doug has raised interesting questions about factors which might 
determine the choice of size for MPAs, particularly in the context of 
pelagic species.

In the direct context of the Chagos fishery and the MPA there is a 
recent paper by Heather Koldewey of London Zoo together with an 
Editorial by Charles Sheppard. (Marine Pollution Bulletin 60 (2010)).

Koldewey looks at the fisheries of the Chagos EEZ which for the last 19 
years have been regulated under a licensing regime to prevent 
over-exploitation. She presents catch data collected by the licensing 
authority for both the Pelagic Tuna Fishery and Inshore Fisheries, and 
also looks at Bycatch. Points that emerge are that:

(1) within the commercial fishing industry the Chagos fishery is 
considered well managed.
(2) Pelagic catches are very variable between years (clearly indicating 
not only the varying number of licences but also the movement of fish 
stocks around the Indian Ocean).
(3) the Inshore Fishery is considered to be within sustainable limits 
(it is this fishery which is mainly pursued by boats from Mauritius, 
some owned by Chagossians).
(4) there is a significant problem posed by illegal Pelagic fishing, 
with 50 Sri Lankan longliners illegally operating in Chagos waters 
between 2002-9.
(5) in the Inshore Fishery there is a major problem of illegal fishing, 
particularly for sharks, resulting in a 90% decline for these between 
1975 and 2006.
(6) Bycatch records are considered unreliable and there has been an 
inadequate Fisheries Observer program to monitor this, nonetheless, the 
size of the bycatch is considered to be a serious conservation issue.

Koldewey then examines the potential benefits of a Chagos MPA, and 
assumes that it will consist of a single EEZ wide 'no-take' zone. She 
reaches the conclusion that this will maintain both the fish populations 
and the near-pristine habitat that exists in this area, whilst stating 
that the almost complete lack of existing data for the pelagic fishery 
poses a problem in assessing any effect that a no-take MPA may have for 
these species.

Undoubtedly, Koldewey's paper is a valuable set of statistics gathered 
together in one place, even thought she seems inclined to disparage the 
very data that she uses. The one illogicality is that she appears to 
assume that control of the fishery can only be achieved through a 
no-take MPA. In so doing, she ignores that there is an existing legal 
regime which has been in place for 19 years which permits the same 
degree of control. Indeed it is this legislation which has been used to 
suspend all fishing licences (as of 1 Nov 2010) and not the MPA, which 
does not yet exist.

Having identified that illegal fishing already presents a major problem, 
Koldeway does not go on to examine specifically how an MPA will 
alleviate this. We already know that the UK Government is planning to 
replace the existing fishery protection vessel, the Pacific Marlin, with 
the same vessel for the MPA patrol. This financially constrained 
administration has had to welcome a donation from a Swiss philanthropist 
for 3 years operating costs, but has made no commitment to any 
additional resources. 544,000 square kilometres is a very large area for 
a single vessel to patrol.  The US air base at Diego Garcia presents an 
excellent opportunity as a base for a fisheries patrol aircraft, but 
this is an expensive option and as far as I know there is no intention 
of funding this. It is possible that the US could be asked to provide 
air support, but military jets are a hugely expensive and inefficient 
tool for the job, and it is an unlikely scenario.

The danger that we face is that we are lulled into a false sense of 
security by the creation of an MPA in this part of the Indian Ocean. In 
reality nothing changes except the name, a Fishery Management 
Conservation Zone becomes a MPA. The same inadequate resources are used 
to detect and curb illegal fishing. Any fisheries statistics that 
existed by virtue of a regulated fishery are extinguished by a ban. Any 
income which the fishery provided is lost, requiring funds to be found 
elsewhere. It is the very scenario of the 'paper park' that Charles 
Sheppard denigrates in his Editorial.

What we need is a commitment by the UK Government to provide adequate 
resources for enforcement, adequate resources for scientific research, 
and adequate resources to improve and conserve the Chagos archipelago, 
not simply fancy words and a Public Relations exercise.

Richard P Dunne

On 01/11/2010 00:34, Douglas Fenner wrote:
> Duncan,
>       Thank you for your thoughtful message.
>       I guess one thing is that I was trying to talk about was pelagic MPAs
> that extend hundreds of kilometers into abyssal depth waters, so they would
> go far beyond protecting against anchor damage, or protecting deeper
> communities from near-shore runoff problems, or ballast exchanges near
> shore, all of which are real problems which regulation of near-shore
> activities should surely address (MPAs being one way to do that), I fully
> support that.  Also I fully agree that different MPAs will have different
> objectives, and so will have different boundaries and zoning to achieve
> those objectives.  All good.
>       I FULLY support precautionary measures, but I was concerned that if the
> tuna migrate thousands of miles, closing a 400 mile diameter area will not
> be able to protect them.
>       Yes I realize the Great Barrier Reef marine park includes some deep
> water, but relatively little compared to these other places, and most of
> their vast area of water is full of reefs and shallow bottom that is
> exploited.
>       I fully agree that compliance is the best goal of enforcement, and that
> if a high level of compliance can be achieved, it reduces enforcement
> logistics and costs.  The ability to catch a few violators and have
> punishment result can often serve as a strong deterrent and lead to high
> compliance.  A high chance that a violator will be caught can be a strong
> deterrrent, and deterrence and compliance is a preferred alternative.  That
> said, hundreds of thousands of square miles of open ocean poses challenges
> for enforcement.  There may be solutions.
>       My message was based on the information given to me that tuna migrate
> for thousands of miles.  I've now been sent references to published data
> showing that for at least three tuna species, that is not true, they usually
> migrate a few hundred miles.  I'm working on a new message to provide that
> information and correct that point, which changes the conclusions as well.
>       Doug
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Duncan MacRae"<solutions at cozm.co.uk>
> To:<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2010 4:17 AM
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Seaward MPA boundaries | Chagos MPA
>> Hi Douglas,
>> I read your coral-list comment with interest, as the extension of some
>> of the MPA's I have worked with in the Caribbean for the last 10 years
>> to the 12nm, limit has been considered a number of times.
>> Let me first say that I know very little about the Chagos situation
>> (even the distances involved of protection from the shore), and can
>> only comment from my own experience, I also don't know you or your
>> background so please forgive any obvious statements;
>> 1. The allocation of area depends on the goal of the MPA. If the goals
>> are i) to protect coral, and ii) to manage shark and tuna fisheries,
>> then perhaps a different approach could be taken. However, as you must
>> appreciate, the role of MPA's often goes way beyond the management of
>> coral and fish stocks for exploitation. One example I can think of
>> which might fit with the Chagos situation (anchoring is an issue in
>> the Caribbean - but perhaps Chagos is too deep) is the dumping of
>> Ballast and other vessel borne pollution near reefs or in currents
>> leading to protected habitats.
>> 2. I don't know the depths of the waters in question, but the waters
>> around Bonaire in the Southern Caribbean reach 3000+m within 250m of
>> the shore. Recent explorations of these areas have found them to be
>> incredibly diverse. Protection of these areas from land based
>> pollution or other threats has been highlighted as a priority. This
>> has proven difficult having set the seaward limits of the MPA at 60m
>> (between 100 and 200m from shore).
>> 3. The MPA in Chagos I imagine will be zoned. Perhaps the outer
>> 'zones' will have different rules and guidelines than the near shore
>> areas (again depending on the goals of the park), making patrolling
>> and enforcement less of an issue.
>> 4. The burden of enforcement falls on the managers. The level of
>> enforcement required will be a result of the goals and aims of the
>> park, the defined priorities (hopefully a decent, dynamic and relevant
>> management plan will be in place) and the day to day operations of the
>> park.
>> 5. The other point for me is that of communication. If a very clear
>> message is sent at the 'x' area is protected by 'Y' authority, most
>> people will probably abide and follow any legislation and guidelines
>> without asking questions. Those that have a legitimate interest in
>> exploitation should be involved in developing management strategies.
>> It is only the small percentage of illegitimate exploiters who need to
>> be 'managed' - an easier task if the stakeholders are included, and
>> patrolling / enforcement efforts are targeted.
>> I think it is more than a feel good exercise to set boundaries to
>> include deeper waters. It gives the option to 'manage' any zones in
>> the future - as at the Barrier Reef. Setting extensive limits from the
>> outset avoids the much harder task of trying to extend them at a later
>> date, when an unforseen threat may raise its head (I know - a bit
>> 'precautionary' I hear you cry!).
>> I look forward to any further postings on the subject, questions
>> relating to the actual Management of MPA's are few and far between on
>> the Coral-List and unfortunately there is no effective list-forum yet
>> for PA practitioners and professionals.
>> Best,
>> Duncan
>> Duncan R. MacRae
>> Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
>> IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas member
>> Director
>> Coastal Zone Management (UK)
>> Skype name: drmacrae, St Agnes.
>> solutions at cozm.co.uk
>> Vale de Maia, Aljezur, Portugal.
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