[Coral-List] Seaward MPA boundaries | Chagos MPA

Duncan MacRae solutions at cozm.co.uk
Sun Oct 31 11:17:43 EDT 2010

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  

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.



Duncan R. MacRae
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas member

Coastal Zone Management (UK)
Skype name: drmacrae, St Agnes.
solutions at cozm.co.uk

Vale de Maia, Aljezur, Portugal.

On 29 Oct 2010, at 08:04, Douglas Fenner wrote:

>  One thing I'm not so sure of the wisdom of, or rationale for, is the
> inclusion of huge amounts of deep, open ocean in MPAs that are  
> primarily for
> protecting
> coral reefs.  This has become a popular thing, with the NW Hawaiian  
> Islands
> in the US, and the Phoenix Is in Kiribati in the Pacific both  
> encompasing
> huge ocean areas, in addition to the Chagos proposal.  The Great  
> Barrier
> Reef Marine Park includes a huge water area, but it has thousands of  
> reefs
> spread around in its area, and continental shelf water between the  
> reefs
> which is exploted in some areas by things like shrimp trawling,
> having affects on various biota.  So it really is able to protect  
> things in
> the water between reefs.  Where I work in American Samoa, a new
> National
> Monument is for Rose Atoll, an atoll about 1 mile in diameter.  A 50  
> mile
> square around the atoll was included in the designation.  That area  
> impinges
> on some traditional tuna fishing areas of some of our populated out  
> islands.
> My
> impression is that there is no quarrel here with protecting the Rose  
> Atoll
> reefs.  But the slopes are very steep and the coral extends only a few
> hundred meters from the surf line, beyond that it is too deep for  
> coral, and
> a few miles off shore, you reach abyssal plain depths, where nothing  
> can be
> exploited.  There are no other reefs in the 50 mile square.
>      To my knowledge, a clear explanation of why the huge area of  
> ocean
> around the reef must be closed has not been provided yet.  I suspect  
> that
> some people think
> that the farther the boundary is out from the reef, the better  
> protected the
> reef is.  I question that.  The only thing that could make a  
> difference for
> protecting the reef is if it helped detect vessels before they could  
> reach
> the reef, and thus deter illegal use.  VMS (Vessel Monitoring  
> Systems) can
> presumably detect vessel location to the accuracy of GPS, so 10 m or  
> less,
> well less than the length of the vessel.  I don't think the boundary  
> should
> be at the water line, since reef extends out from the reef crest about
> 100-200 m, in other locations is will be much further.  You need to  
> know
> that the boundary is far enough out that a vessel is clearly within  
> the
> boundary before it can reach reef.
> Even 3 miles from the crest would do that for Rose Atoll.  I'm not  
> an expert
> on vessel detecton and enforcement of MPA boundaries in open ocean,  
> but
> unless the boundary helps with enforcement, then assisting MPA  
> enforcement
> isn't a
> justification for closing a large area of ocean.
>    Other people clearly think that closing open ocean to exploitation
> protects ocean resources, such as sharks.  Indeed there is much  
> evidence as
> I understand it that some shark species are in need of protection,  
> some of
> which are pelagic sharks.  (Reef sharks and pelagic sharks are quite
> different species, I believe)  But in general, tuna, tuna-like  
> species, and
> other pelagic fish species are what are called "highly migratory."   
> They
> range over huge areas, can swim thousands of miles, and mix  
> constantly.  If
> you mark off a 50 square mile on a map and prohibit fishing for these
> species
> within that area, you will have no effect whatsoever on protecting  
> those
> species.  They will swim in and out of that 50 mile square, and  
> fishers can
> catch them all outside the square, they just have to wait until they  
> swim
> out.  Even individual nations cannot manage these fish species, even  
> when
> the nation controls a vast EEZ  (Exclusive Economic Zone) such as  
> the EEZ
> around French Polynesia, which is as large an area as Europe.  That  
> is small
> compared to the Pacific Ocean.  To manage (and protect) these species
> requires the cooperation of all nations involved in fishing for them  
> in the
> entire ocean.  All those nations are involved in international tuna
> management councils, there is one for the Indian O, one for the  
> Atlantic,
> one for the eastern Pacific, and a new one for the rest of the  
> Pacific.  If
> those countries don't cooperate, no one country can manage those  
> species
> (Though the leading one or two distant fishing nations could have a  
> big
> effect, the others could not.)  MPA's the size of these huge new  
> reserves
> cannot manage these pelagic fish species, they are way too small.   
> Now I'm
> not an expert on all pelagic fisheries, and there may be a few  
> species that
> are not
> highly migratory, in which case an MPA might be effective for those  
> species
> only (but they would be minor components of any catch).  But the  
> only ones
> that are not migratory I know of are drifters like jellyfish and
> plankton.
>     I would also point out that the larger the area you enclose within
> that line you draw on the map (and the line itself does not exist  
> except on
> the map, it does not define any kind of biological or physical  
> boundary that
> exists in nature) the larger the area there is to enforce.  Perhaps  
> there
> are clever ways to remotely scan in real time a vast area of ocean and
> detect a small wooden fishing boat, and then send a patrol boat out  
> to check
> it out.  But I suspect that at the moment that is a science fiction  
> dream.
> Many boats are not fitted with VMS, particularly in developing  
> countries.
> Radar works only for short distances, and you need a base for it,  
> either an
> island or a ship, and a team to operate and maintain it, plus the  
> money to
> pay for it.  Correct me if I'm
> wrong, but the bigger you make the ocean area, the more difficult or
> impossible it is to
> enforce the closure.  These big MPAs may make enforcement a  
> impossible-
> particularly in a place like the Phoenix Is of Kiribati, which are  
> very very
> remote, and the islands very tiny, and the nation has no resources.   
> What is
> to keep a passing ship from stopping at any of those remote islands  
> and
> cleaning out the reef fish?  Nobody there to detect them, let alone  
> stop
> them.  And if they are out in the open ocean, stop them from tuna  
> fishing?
> Most tuna boats have VMS, I presume, so that might actually be  
> easier than a
> non-tuna boat that wants to exploit the reef.  But you still have to  
> pay for
> sending a patrol boat out.  Another option is patrolling by plane,  
> but that
> is so expensive that even wealthy countries only do it on occasion.
> Further, simply having a boat or ship within the dotted lines of the
> boundaries is not an offense, as part of the EEZ, there is a right of
> innocent passage.  You have to catch someone in an illegal act, and  
> remote
> detection can't do that.
>    To me, closing off tuna fishing grounds which cannot possibly  
> manage
> tuna stocks, if it does not have a good rationale for why it helps  
> protect
> the reef, just serves to harrass tuna fishers engaged in legitimate  
> economic
> activity.  Tuna and particularly
> pelagic sharks, need good managment and protection, but that  
> requires a very
> different tool than a pelagic MPA, it requires international  
> cooperation
> between the fishing nations.  For different jobs you need different  
> tools,
> and the MPA tool just isn't a useful tool for managing pelagic fish  
> stocks.
> There is such a tool, and the pelagic fish species do need good  
> management
> (there
> are papers documenting some of the pelagic sharks are a tiny  
> fraction of
> their original
> stocks).  International fisheries managment agencies are the only  
> tool with
> any chance of being effective, and if they are not doing their job,  
> that is
> the fault of the national governments involved, and nothing other than
> correcting that can possibly save these species.  As of a few years  
> ago,
> overfishing of bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna had been occurring  
> continually
> in the Pacific for about 11 years straight.  Although overfishing was
> occurring (they were being taken at an unsustainable rate) they had  
> not yet
> reached an overfished stock status (the total number was not yet  
> below the
> Maximum Sustainable Yield level), though if practices continued they  
> would
> reach that at some point.  Promises by major distant fishing nations  
> to
> reduce
> their fleets had not happened.  The two largest fishing fleets in the
> Pacific are from Japan and Taiwan, I believe.  I also remember that  
> there
> was far too little data from the Philippines and Indonesia about how  
> much
> tuna
> they were catching.  But I am not a professional in these fisheries
> management areas, let alone an expert.  (some sharks are likely in  
> much
> worse shape that tuna, and tuna in different oceans can be in  
> different
> situations.)
>    But my feeling is that drawing a line on a map way out from coral  
> reefs
> to include thousands of square miles of open ocean, may be a
> feel-good exercise that actually does little if any good, and  
> imposes an
> impossible burden on enforcement.
>    These are my personal opinions.  Keep in mind that not only am I  
> not an
> expert in
> pelagic fisheries, but I have never read any of the plans or  
> rationales for
> any of these huge reserves.  If these sorts of concerns have been  
> addressed
> in those plans, I congratulate their writers, and invite them to  
> educate us.
> Douglas Fenner
> News from "Science Now":  "Record Hot Summer Wrecks Havoc."
> Science Now reports that NASA says this year so far is the hottest  
> on record
> in the 131 years of record keeping.  Nearly 0.7 C hotter than the  
> average
> from 1951 to 1980, and NOAA has found essentially the same thing using
> different data.  Nightime temperatures hit record highs in 37 states  
> this
> summer.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado,  
> has
> found near-record ice area loss so far this year in the Arctic, and  
> expects
> the area to hit a record low this year.  Ice volume is at a record  
> low,
> 10,000 cubic kilometers lower than the average of the last 30  
> years.  Ice
> volume is being lost at 17% per decade.
> http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/09/record-hot-summer-wreaks-havoc.html?etoc=&sms_ss=email
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