[Coral-List] Large pelagic/reef MPAs - Phoenix Islands, Kiribati

Steven Miller smiller at gate.net
Fri Nov 12 11:38:35 EST 2010

Hi David

I thought that buying out the fishing rights, to benefit the people of 
Kiribati, was considered paramount to the success of the PIPA. Is this 
still an element of the management strategy?

I also remember early discussions about establishing a Trust on behalf 
of the people of Kiribati as justification for eliminating fishing (that 
is, jobs).  You mentioned that the government is in the processing of 
setting up a Trust Fund "based on the natural resources of the protected 
area that will benefit the people of Kiribati..."  If I remember 
correctly, the Trust Fund has been talked about for some time now.  How 
much money is in the Fund now and how much money is sought (needed) to 
benefit the people of Kiribati?

Thanks for the update.

Steven Miller, PhD
Research Professor
UNC Wilmington

I suppose knowing how the money would be spent to benefit the people of 
Kiribati is an important question too, but that is another issue.

On 11/11/2010 11:51 PM, David Obura wrote:
>> At present, PIPA (http://www.phoenixislands.org/) is up in the top 3 MPAs by area, along with the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM, northwest Hawaiian Islands), and Chagos, all of which have been formally registered very recently and increase the amount of ocean area protected by vast amounts. PIPA and PMNM also gained World Heritage status earlier this year. With global environmental/biodiversity convention targets and 'wisdom' converging on the need to protect 30% of natural habitats (ie. in somewhere near a pristine state, or at least without major negative influences) many marine scientists and managers are striving hard to catch up with terrestrial management which is decades ahead. So these three large protected areas must be applauded, and even more so because they are all multiple-zoned areas.
>> - the size of PIPA is intended to protect the pelagic/deepwater/seamount systems within the boundary, not just the coral reefs and island systems (which are in fact about 0.06% of the total area of 408,250km2). It is the first MPA to explicitly target these systems and have a major proportion of its area devoted to them.
>> - size is important in the buffer zone around reefs and island systems to shelter reef sharks, turtles, seabirds and other large species that suffer as bycatch to nearshore fishing, especially longlining. PIPA has 12 nm boundaries around each island that exclude longliners, and a 60nm boundary around the administrative island Kanton to keep out purse seiners, based on SPC-recommended guidelines for limiting conflict between distant-water purse seiners and atoll-based fishermen. Kanton does not have any local fishermen, but the regulation provided an easy stepping stone for the government in establishing legal protection zones.
>> - PIPA is extremely fortunate in having no resident communities on the islands to suffer from the loss of fishing grounds from the large protected area. The only people living on the islands, on Kanton, are government staff and their families. Attempts to settle people in permanent settlements have failed over the last 100 years because the islands are too remote and small to sustain people long term without huge subsidies form outside (this clear limitation of coral islands/atolls is usually ignored in all the current debates about people living on remote islands!!)
>> - enforcement on such a scale IS different from a small MPA, and this is where we butted heads on the World Heritage nomination. Enforcement IS possible through a different model from the "management effectiveness" paradigm that we are currently in that requires effective bums on seats. At the moment, PIPA still has no staff resident in the islands, but there is, in fact, little to actually manage on a day to day basis. Doug rightly points out that the threats are from pirate/illegal access and use, such as by fishing vessels. To deal with this, Kiribati has a 'whole of govt' approach, in which all the Ministries with a vested interest in the island group are on the Management Committee, established through an Act of Parliament and approved by the Cabinet. Through this top-level approach, agreements with collaborating countries such as New Zealand, France and the USA have been established (are being established) for such things as surveillance overflights and satellite remo
>   te sensing, the ability for their naval vessels to apprehend offending vessels on behalf of Kiribati, and use of the Fisheries vessel monitoring systems all legal fishing vessels must use to also monitor activity around and in PIPA. A fishing vessel was impounded last year, and some $10M obtained as a fine. When you have a protected area that is 1/3 of a country's ocean and land area, it is taken VERY seriously by all in government and by the people, and in this case with little to lose and a lot to gain. This new approach to MPA governance is essential for large areas such as PIPA, and the management community needs to come around quickly to support this process especially in countries with limited resources.
>> - migratory species - yes, they do move, but they do also follow key migration routes, use different locations for different purposes etc. Tuna science is not developed enough to know what role protection in PIPA will have on stocks fished in other locations, but this is one of the primary goals to find out in the science programme of PIPA.
>> - getting even larger, Kiribati and PIPA are part of larger ocean-scale management initatives, for decades in tuna fisheries management agencies and now in leading the charge on establishing a Pacific Oceanscape - the President of Kiribati, along with Presidents from other countries officially started this at a convention earlier this year.
>> - finally, iconic sites sites such as these 3 large ocean MPAs reset the bar on conservation targets and drive a global policy agenda for improving management and conservation. Who is going to establish the next large one? or improve their EEZ and coastal management to be effective tools for biodiversity/resource conservation and management? Its a welcome arms race and if done correctly (ie. with GOOD ecosystem based management rather than 'keep the people out' approaches), then the main winners will be those that depend on natural systems for their livelihoods and income.
>> I fully agree, Doug, with many of the values you state about the reasons and successes for small scale MPAs targeted at community benefits and empowerment. But don't question a wholly different model without some good and strong reasons and information!!
>> PIPA has a developing and growing website - http://www.phoenixislands.org/ - welcome for a visit. The government is in the process of setting up a Trust Fund based on the natural resources of the protected area, that will benefit the people of Kiribati by protecting the natural values of the system, and all are welcome to contribute to this special place!! We are also setting up a 10-year research strategy and looking to make it a 'climate change reference site' for other locations around the world - a place where climate impacts can be studied without the interference of local human impacts.
>> All best, and sorry for this looooong post, I had tried to keep it short!!
>> David Obura
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