[Coral-List] The Chagos MPA - what went wrong?

Jon slayer jonslayer at hotmail.co.uk
Fri Oct 17 14:41:25 EDT 2014

A letter is published in New Scientist by Charles Sheppard as Chair of the Chagos Conservation Trust in response to the opinion article by Fred Pearce recently. Part of the letter responds yet again to the erroneous claim that the conservation of Chagos, specifically the creation of the marine reserve, was done to prevent the return of Chagossians. As many of us know, a High Court judgement of March-April (Bancoult vs Secretary of State, before Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Vos) states, after a detailed 93 paras, that: ".the MPA was not actuated by the improper motive of intending to create an effective long-term way to prevent Chagossians and their descendants from resettling in the BIOT."The text of the letter is inserted below.'From Charles Sheppard, Chair, Chagos Conservation TrustDesignating the Chagos Archipelago a no-take marine protected area (MPA) was based on the best available science.The precautionary principle was rightly applied to ensure that lengthy deliberation did not allow further destruction of the world's most pristine coral reefs.Policies should, of course, be reviewed as further scientific evidence comes to light. In the case of Chagos, new research continues to corroborate the decision to protect this unique ecosystem.It is misleading to claim that the no-take policy is another barrier preventing the displaced Chagossians from returning to the islands. The MPA declaration states that the level of protection would be reviewed – in full consultation with the Chagossians – in the case of resettlement.A mere 2.8 per cent of the world's ocean has any protection, with only 0.6 per cent fully protected, well below international commitments.With the cleanest sea water in the world and a staggering diversity of marine life, the Chagos Archipelago is a site of resilience within the heavily overexploited west Indian Ocean.It is an underwater sanctuary that deserves to be afforded the ultimate protection.Warwick, UK'The letter and links to the associated articles can be found at http://chagos-trust.org/news/letter-new-scientist-reply-fred-pearce-opinion-piece-chagos-marine-reserve-polluted-politicsJon
> Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:16:58 -1100
> From: douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
> To: m.johnson at hull.ac.uk
> CC: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] The Chagos MPA - what went wrong?
> Magnus,
>      So your criticism of the Koleway paper is "really??"  Could you be a
> tad more specific?
>      Sorry about my statement about citations in the "Lazy Fish" article, I
> should have said "links."  There is a link to info on setting up the NW
> Hawaiian Is. MPA, but no link to the "lazy fish" research, apparently
> because it hasn't been published yet.  There is discussion of an article by
> Lehodey, I was able to easily find it on Google Scholar,
> Modelling the impact of *climate change *on Pacific *skipjack tuna *population
> and fisheries <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-012-0595-1>
> P *Lehodey*
> <http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=AMtgrlgAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra>, I
> Senina <http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=dbkMK1wAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra>,
> B Calmettes, J Hampton, S Nicol - *Climatic change*, 2013 - Springer
> Abstract IPCC-type *climate *models have produced simulations of the
> oceanic environment  that can be used to drive models of upper trophic
> levels to explore the impact of *climate **change *on marine resources. We
> use the Spatial Ecosystem And Population Dynamics *...*
> The title has a link to the article.
> I look forward to the publication of the research on selection for reduced
> tuna movement, just as I look forward to reading your publication in
> Advances in Marine Biology when it comes out, as I'm sure others do as
> well.  Also the chapter on the toothfish and MPA in South Georgia.
> I don't remember writing in my post that the Koldeway et al. article is
> "gilt edged proof" of anything.  I provided some references in my post for
> people to read some other viewpoints that might provide some balance to
> what I considered a very one-sided posting (particularly the New Scientist
> article).  By providing the reference and link, readers can read it and
> make up their own mind.
>      Yes, movement of tuna has surely been selected over long periods.  It
> is not necessary for the tuna to stop all movement in order to be protected
> by the MPA.  If you care to take a look at the article I pointed to
> "Protecting the Chagos Archipelago" you will find a map, Figure 6, which
> shows that yellowfin tuna, on the average, travel less than the diameter of
> the Chagos MPA, and skipjack travel only slightly more on the average.  A
> similar figure is presented in the Sheppard et al 2012 paper, as Figure
> 10.  That suggests that even without selection for "lazy fish", the MPA can
> provide at least some level of protection for those two species of tuna.
> With reduced movement, it can protect even more, and such selection will
> surely occur, though how much evolution will occur in response remains to
> be seen.  A slight reduction in movement may well produce a slight
> reduction in fitness, but open tuna fishing will reduce populations a lot
> more.  Also, Sheppard et al. (2012) write, "Migratory predators like tuna
> do not move randomly, but associate with certain environmental and/or
> physical features (Hughes et al., 2010; Schaefer and Fuller, 2010), meaning
> that positive, measurable reserve effects on pelagic populations exist
> (Hyrenbach et al., 2002; Roberts and Sargant, 2002; Baum et al., 2003; Worm
> et al., 2003, 2005; Jensen et al., 2010). Several studies have shown
> that migratory
> species can benefit from no-take marine reserves (Polunin and Roberts,
> 1993; Palumbi, 2004; Beare et al., 2010; Jensen et al., 2010)..  Pelagic
> MPAs are an important tool in marine conservation management (Game et al.,
> 2009)"
>      I don't recall anyone ever saying that MPAs provide 100% complete
> protection for any species of fish that moves.  In fact, the "spillover
> effect" of MPAs, is a benefit that requires the fish to move and for some
> fish to move out of the MPA and get caught.  Spillover is a potential
> benefit to tuna for the Chagos MPA, just as it is for small coral reef
> MPAs.  In fact, if you make an MPA too large, you diminish the chance for
> spillover since more fish are too far from the edge to swim out.  MPAs can
> be thought of as "natural fish farms" where fish are protected enough to
> grow larger and more abundant, then some fish spill over the boundary and
> get caught.  There is some evidence that MPAs can actually provide
> increases in fish catch for fishermen, though they surely don't always do
> so.  That would be in addition to the conservation benefits of making sure
> that fishing doesn't drive fish species to commercial or local extinction,
> ending benefits to humans and damaging the ecosystem.  Many coral-listers
> will be familiar with many of these things.
> "the fishers have a vested interest in maintaining healthy stocks"
>  Really???  Fishers have a vested interest in making more money, and they
> do that by catching more fish.  Yes, there is an incentive for fishers for
> long term maintenance of the resource.  But it is overwhelmed by the much
> stronger incentive to be the first to catch the fish (instead of getting
> nothing) and the incentive to have the rewards now instead of later.  Tuna
> is big business, a single purse seiner can hold about 1000 tons of tuna, at
> $2 a pound, that's $4 million worth of tuna in one boatload.  That is
> industrial fishing.  In the Pacific, tuna is a $2 billion a year business,
> that's not exactly chump change.  The history of fishing and attempts to
> regulate it are littered with examples of fishers responding to the
> incentives of scramble competition, also called "tragedy of the commons" in
> which the "early bird gets the worm" and "he who hesitates is lost."
>  Hilborn calls the examples often quoted of fisheries failures as "the
> litany."  The poster child is the Canadian cod industry, overfished for
> centuries (as documented in the little popular book, "Cod"), it finally
> collapsed, and Canada lost a billion dollar industry and the stocks haven't
> recovered decades later.  The primary reason for the need for regulation is
> that the economics of fishing are such that if unregulated, fishers have an
> incentive to fish the stocks to oblivion, also known as economic
> extinction, where net profits are zero.  It is the regulators, not the
> fishers, who may, may, be able to respond to the long term incentive, to
> regulate the fishery for the long term maximum benefit of all.  They do so
> with the determined opposition of fishers, whose strongest incentive is to
> catch all they can, as fast as they can.  In this case, the incentives are
> in the millions to billions of dollars, so irresistible.  So the reality is
> that the stocks of some tuna species are not overfished, others somewhat
> overfished, others are grossly overfished like the bigeye that the "lazy
> tuna" article points out is at just 16% of the unfished biomass, and others
> like some species of bluefin tuna are approaching economic extinction
> (which benefits no one).  Yet fishers continue to pursue them
> relentlessly.  According to Wikipedia, in 2008 the price of bluefin in the
> Tokyo fish market was $23 a pound, and several individual fish have gone
> for $150,000 or more. "In 2013, a 222-kilogram tuna was sold at Tsukiji
> (the Tokyo fish market) for $1.8 million, or about $8,000 per kilogram."
>   Irresistible.
>       Not all species of fish around the world are overfished, but more and
> more species are fully fished, and many are overfished and others are
> "recovering."  It is a continual battle to manage them, and Kolloway et al.
> write that "the western Indian Ocean remains a region with some of the most
> exploited poorly understood and badly enforced and managed coastal and
> pelagic fisheries in the world."  "While within the commercial fishing
> industry the Chagos/BIOT fishery is considered well managed when compared
> to other fisheries in the western Indian Ocean, this needs to be taken in
> the context of the generally poor or non-existent management within the
> region and the weak RFMO described earlier."  When the stocks are not well
> regulated, some people say MPAs may be the only tool left that works.
>  (because the tuna move around, the tuna within the Chagos MPA is not a
> stock, it is part of the entire Indian Ocean stock.)  That is the reason
> that MPAs are used for fisheries management on coral reefs, not because
> they are a panacea, but because "conventional" management is a total
> failure.  Of course, the primary reason for MPAs on coral reefs is
> conservation, the fisheries benefits of "spillover" are an additional
> benefit for local fishermen.  Koleway et al. write, "bycatch is a serious
> conservation issue that is complex and ecosystem-wide in its effects, and
> the bycatch from tuna fisheries in Chagos/BIOT is significant, particularly
> for sharks."  So there are conservation issues with tuna fishing.
> Cheers,  Doug
> On Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 7:42 AM, Magnus Johnson <m.johnson at hull.ac.uk>
> wrote:
> > Oh my.
> >
> > You're citing the Koldeway paper as gilt edged proof that a no take marine
> > reserve will benefit the Chagos???  Really??
> >
> > I looked with interest at the link you provided Douglas but don't see any
> > citations?   Am I missing something?
> >
> > I also think the idea of promoting MPAs because they will encourage the
> > evolution of changes in fish behaviour that have been previously driven by
> > non-anthropogenic factors for hundreds of thousands of years woolly
> > headed.  Much, much better to have sensible and well managed pelagic
> > fisheries where the fishers have a vested interest in maintaining healthy
> > stocks and the funds generated by licence fees will support meaningful
> > enforcement/management.  Otherwise you'll get no enforcement and lots of
> > IUU fishing.
> >
> > Lazy fish are not a good thing to wish for, in the same way as small fish
> > caused by overfishing (not something that occurred in the Chagos pelagic
> > area when it was fished and managed) are not a good thing.  They move
> > around for a reason, because they have to - migration is expensive, not
> > something done on a whim.  I really find it quite unbelievable that this is
> > being promoted as a potential strategy or benefit.  Bonkers. Completely
> > flippin' bonkers.
> >
> > If you want a good example of a well managed fishery and MPA working
> > together I suggest looking at the South Georgia toothfish fishery (a
> > chapter on this in the Advances volume too).
> >
> > And if you want a really significant issue to worry about, I'd start with
> > plastics.
> >
> >
> > http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/short-film-showcase/are-you-eating-plastic-for-dinner
> > ?
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> >
> -- 
> Douglas Fenner
> Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
> PO Box 7390
> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
> phone 1 684 622-7084
> "belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
> belief in evolution is optional, use of antibiotics that bacteria have not
> evolved resistance to is recommended.
> website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
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