[Coral-List] Pelagic MPAs

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Tue Nov 2 03:26:31 EDT 2010

I used to work in the Philippines, on a project to collect information on 
reefs to support the siting of MPAs.  If we went to the villagers there and 
said, "We want to have an MPA here to protect the biodiversity and ecology 
of your reef" we would have gotten nowhere.  But instead, the small MPA's 
were designed to not only protect the reef ecology, but also provide better 
fish catches for desperately poor and hungry fishermen, from spillover. 
Spillover is a small effect, it will not feed a country.  But the best way 
to convince the fishermen was to take them to Apo Island, the first 
successful reef MPA in the Philippines.  Let them talk to the fishermen 
there.  They will say "we had to go a long ways before to catch enough to 
feed our family, now we can do it right here.  We like our MPA and we 
enforce it."  The word of success spreads, and we even had villages saying 
"the other village got an MPA, how come we can't have one??"
     A country like the Philippines has no money for enforcement.  The 
government used to declare MPAs and they were paper parks, no one paid any 
attention.  But the fishermen in the villages have to catch fish or their 
families go hungry, they are not far from starvation.  So any little thing 
that improves their fish catch, they are all for it.  Then they are the ones 
that defend their reef MPAs, because those are their fish farms.  Those MPAs 
really work, not perfectly I'm sure, but they are fabulous compared to what 
there was before.
     Indonesia has the most reefs of any country in the world, the 
Philippines has a lot of reefs, both are among the highest diversity in the 
world.  But if you insist on only protecting biodiversity and reef 
ecosystems, Australia and the US will have MPAs, and most of the world 
     Today, most coral reefs must earn their way, like the rest of us. 
Most countries do not have the luxury to tell the reef fishermen too bad go 
somewhere else.  That's a huge part of the population of some countries, 
maybe 100 million people total in the world or something like that. 
Personally, I think if a country can get dive tourism, that is a better way 
for reefs to earn the money that makes people think they are valuable and 
worth protecting, than fishing.  Much more money is earned that way, and it 
is not extractive and more sustainable (though not perfect, for sure).  But 
in many countries large dive tourism is a dream that is far off, and there 
are huge numbers of desperately hungry people.  I don't think we can just 
tell them tough luck if you have nothing to eat.
      The nice thing about MPAs is there is a chance for a win-win solution. 
The poor fishermen (or dive industry) benefits, but so does the reef ecology 
and biodiversity.  We don't have to choose just one or the other, we can 
have both.
       Now to anybody who thinks that MPA fish farms are the solution to 
world hunger, we need to be realistic.  Spillover is a small effect, hard to 
demonstrate.  Maybe larval production is larger, but even more difficult to 
prove.  I predict that in a country with a rapidly growing population, the 
extra food produced by an MPA will improve food supply for fishers only for 
a short period, and soon there will be so many people that the small 
increase in food produced by MPAs will be overwhelmed by the exploding 
population.  It is a very minor, temporary fix, and the fundamental problem 
of the rapid population growth must be solved or the country will be mired 
in poverty far into the future.  Alternatively, the economy has to provide 
enough jobs and income to feed people, and in the process birth rates come 
down.  Japan has more people than the Philippines on a roughly similar 
amount of land, and look where they are at.  Of course, development involves 
huge threats to reefs, too.
     As coral reef workers and ecologists, of course what we want to benefit 
is the reef ecology and biodiversity.  But in many countries, the best way 
to get to that goal is to use MPAs to produce food for very hungry people, 
which then support and defend the MPA.  Without their support in many 
places, the MPA just won't work and nothing will be protected.  I don't 
think in most of the world we have the choice of having functioning MPAs 
without using the fisheries benefits to get the support to protect the MPA.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Magnus Johnson" <M.Johnson at hull.ac.uk>
To: <Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 1:05 PM
Subject: ***SPAM*** Re: [Coral-List] Pelagic MPAs

Every time I see MPAs justified on the basis of fisheries management I
cringe, (as I do when I see MSY as a target).  Biodiversity yes, Fisheries

There are lots but I suggest Hilborn as an excellent source generally:

Hilborn et al (2004). When can marine reserves improve fisheries management?
Ocean & Coastal Management, 47:177-205
Hilborn (2006). Faith based fisheries. Fisheries 31(11):554-555

On 01/11/2010 20:37, "dfenner dfenner" <dfenner at blueskynet.as> wrote:

>        In my message about pelagic MPAs such as Chagos, I ended asking if
> these issues had been considered in planning for large pelagic MPAs, and
> inviting their authors to educate us.  I thank my colleagues for beginning
> the process of educating me on this.  Indeed for the Chagos MPA there is
> quite a bit of information to support the role of pelagic MPA¹s.  I list
> several references at the end of this message that give a great deal of
> information on the topic.  In particular, the article by Sibert and 
> Hampton
> say OOthe median lifetime displacement of skipjack ranges from 420 to 470
> nautical miles. The lifetime displacement of yellowfin is about 20%
> less².  Also
> OOThe term, Ohighly migratory¹ appears to have no operational definition 
> in
> relation to the natural history of tunas. Rather, it is a legal term 
> defined
> only in the context of the Law of the Sea.² Further: OO. . .the results 
> also
> suggest that Pacific Island countries can implement effective domestic
> management policies to promote conservation and sustainable utilization of
> tuna stocks within their EEZs².  They present a map of the western Pacific
> from the Philippines to American Samoa that shows that most of that area 
> is
> within the EEZ¹s of various countries there (a map of the whole Pacific
> would show that a majority of the Pacific is not in any EEZ).  They report
> that only 20% of the tuna catch in the western and central Pacific Ocean 
> is
> taken outside of EEZ¹s.  Thus, the EEZ¹s could be a very effective tool 
> for
> managing stocks of those two species in that area, and could be for the
> Pacific in general.  The new Chagos reserve is about 450 nautical miles in
> diameter, so it should have at least some effect on pelagic stocks within
> it.  On the other hand, Sibert and Hampton also say ³The biological
> characteristics of tropical skipjack and yellowfin tunas estimated in this
> study are such that their movements will carry a significant proportion of
> the population beyond most EEZs during their lifetime. Some degree of
> cooperation between neighboring states would, therefore, appear to be
> essential for conservation and optimal exploitation of skipjack and
> yellowfin stocks.²  Clearly, such international cooperation in the Pacific
> could be between nations with adjacent EEZ¹s, and would not require the
> agreement of all nations in the regional tuna councils or the distant 
> water
> fishing nations.  They argue that both local management within a country¹s
> EEZ and international management are needed.  The Koldewey et al. (2010)
> paper lists several studies that have documented the positive effects of
> MPAs on migratory species.  The Koldewey paper has far too much 
> information
> in it to summarize succinctly and I highly recommend that it be read.
>       I note that if a pelagic MPA is large enough to cover much of the
> range of a migratory species, but can¹t cover it all, the situation 
> appears
> to be quite parallel to a small MPA on a coral reef, where fish moving
> outside the MPA are called ³spillover² and can increase fish catches in
> areas around the MPAs.  In terms of fisheries, MPA¹s could be considered 
> as
> natural fish farms, though their ecosystem protection benefits are much
> broader than that.
>       I do not have similar information on the migratory range of other
> pelagic species such as Bigeye and albacore tuna, or sharks, swordfish,
> marlin, wahoo, etc.  Based on the two we do have data on, the 
> precautionary
> approach would be to assume they have similar sorts of ranges.  The 
> Koldewey
> paper indicates a third tuna species has a similar range, indicating that 
> is
> probably a good assumption.
>      My colleague rightly reminds me that these large pelagic MPAs often
> have many seamounts in them.  Seamounts often concentrate some types of 
> sea
> life, including tuna (as pointed out in the Koldewey paper).  Further,
> trawling on seamounts which can catch huge quantities of long-lived fish
> such as orange roughy, effectively mining them much faster than they can
> reproduce, also is highly destructive to benthic communities such as deep
> coral beds.
>       The Sibert & Hampton paper, and the Koldewey et al paper do not
> consider the problems of enforcement in detail. Koldewey et al. say
> that ³although
> some of the challenges relating to their implementation may be both costly
> and difficult (Kaplan et al., 2010).²  The Game et al (2009) paper does
> consider the enforcement problem, but I have not yet been able to access
> this paper.  As I pointed out in my previous message, VMS (vessel 
> monitoring
> systems, a GPS and satellite system for remotely tracking ship movements) 
> is
> widespread in tuna fleets, though I don¹t know how widely it is required.
> Such
> a system is very feasible (it would be too costly for small artisinal 
> boats
> but a minor cost for industrial tuna ships, which are probably the main
> concern for remote pelagic MPAs).  If tuna fishing boats are excluded from
> these MPAs, it would be relatively easy to track them continuously if they
> have VMS on them.  A patrol boat could then intercept any found within the
> MPA.  This won¹t stop boats that do not have VMS and poachers certainly
> wouldn¹t have VMS (illegal fishing is a problem everywhere).  Compliance 
> is
> always the goal of enforcement, and simply having the capability to catch
> violators and an occasional apprehension of one and punishment can produce
> good compliance, which in turn greatly reduces the logistics and costs of
> enforcement, as well as achieving the objectives.  So perhaps it may not 
> be
> as difficult as I imagined.
>       The views I expressed in my previous message were taken virtually
> verbatim from meetings of the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the
> Western Regional Fisheries Management Council in Honolulu, in 2004 and 
> early
> 2005.  I note that the Sibert and Hampton article which reported that
> Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna have median lifetime migrations of only about
> 420-470 km, was published in 2003.  Sibert was a member of that committee
> and I remember him present at most of the meetings I attended, though
> perhaps not at the particular meeting where that was discussed.  Yet, no
> opinions contrary to the ones I heard and put in my message were expressed
> then.  Bit surprising.        Doug
> The Koleway and Sibert articles are available free online, just search for
> them on Google Scholar.
> Game, E.T., Grantham, H.S., Hobday, A.J., Pressey, R.L., Lombard, A.T.,
> Beckley, L.E.,
> Gjerde, K., Bustamante, R., Possingham, H.P., Richardson, A.J., 2009.
> Pelagic
> protected areas: the missing dimension in ocean conservation. Trends 
> Ecol..
> Evol. 24 (7), 360­369.
> Koldewey, H., Curnick, D., Harding, S., Harrison, L., Gollock, M., 2010..
> Potential
> benefits to fisheries and biodiversity of the Chagos Archipelago/British
> Indian
> Ocean Territory as a no-take marine reserve. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60,
> 1906­1915.
> Sheppard, C.  2010.  Marine protected areas and pelagic fishing: The case 
> of
> the Chagos Archipelago.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 1899-1901.
> Sibert, J., Hampton, J., 2003. Mobility of tropical tunas and the
> implications for
> fisheries management. Mar. Policy 27, 87­95.
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Dr Magnus Johnson
Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences
University of Hull



> *****************************************************************************************
> To view the terms under which this email is distributed, please go to 
> http://www.hull.ac.uk/legal/email_disclaimer.html
> *****************************************************************************************


> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list 

More information about the Coral-List mailing list