World’s largest marine park created in Antarctica; A landmark agreement has been signed by EU and 24 countries to protect the Ross Sea in Antarctica

The international agreement was made o at the conclusion of two weeks of discussions at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which took place in Hobart, Australia.
The 1.1 square kilometres of the Ross Sea around Antarctica will become the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA).
The area will be declared a no-take “general protection zone” where no commercial fishing will be allowed for 35 years and nothing can be removed, including marine life and minerals.
The proposal was introduced by New Zealand and the US, and was unanimously accepted by all nations’ representatives.
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As part of the compromise, there will be special zones where fishing from krill and toothfish will be allowed for research purposes.
It is the first marine park created in international waters and will set a precedent for further moves to help the world achieve the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s recommendation that 30% of the world’s oceans be protected.
The Ross Sea only comprise 2% of the Southern Ocean but is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of the world’s Antarctic petrels and around 6% of the world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.
Scientists have also estimated that the Southern ocean produces roughly three quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in all oceans around the world.
Evan Bloom from the US state department, said: “I think it’s a really significant moment. We’ve been working towards this for many years. It’s taken time to get consensus but now we have established the world’s largest marine protected area.”
Chris Johnson, WWF-Australia’s ocean science manager, said: “Today’s agreement is a turning point for the protection of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. This is important not just for the incredible diversity of life that it will protect, but also for the contribution it makes to building the resilience of the world’s ocean in the face of climate change.”
Lewis Pugh, the UN Patron for the Oceans, said: “I’m absolutely overjoyed. This is the biggest protected area on the land or the sea, this is the first large scale MPA on the high seas…For me this is an issue about justice – justice between generations. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with us destroying our oceans so our children and grandchildren have absolutely nothing.”
Further information
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UK Wildlife Trusts call on UK Government to create more Marine Conservation Zones to fill gaps in UK network of marine protected areas

The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report, ‘The case for more Marine Conservation Zones’. The report identifies 48 areas at sea that still need protection for their marine habitats and wildlife.
Nine of the sites identified are off Devon’s coasts, with two areas in the Bristol Channel, one in Lyme Bay and six Devon estuaries recommended as MCZs.
Following the designation of 50 Marine Conservation Zones since 2011 (of which six are in Devon) these new sites would complete a network of special places where habitats and wildlife can flourish to safeguard healthy and productive seas for the future.
All but one of the Devon sites in the report have already been recommended as Marine Conservation Zones in a previous report to the government following local consultations representing all sea-users in the south west.
The new report is published in advance of the government’s plans to announce a third and final phase of Marine Conservation Zones – the government plans to consult the public in 2017 and designate the chosen sites in 2018 – and will  be presented to the environment minister, Therese Coffey.
The nine MCZs recommended in coastal and offshore areas of Devon are:
1. Axe Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Seaton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds and nursery areas for fish such as bass
2. Dart Estuary
Where? South Hams, upstream of Dartmouth
Why? Habitats provide food and shelter for huge range of species including seahorses, oysters, mussels, sponges and anemones.
3. Devon Avon Estuary
Where? South Hams, near Bigbury
Why? Important nursery areas for crustaceans, molluscs and juvenile fish
4. Erme Estuary
Where? South Hams
Why? Habitats for lobsters and crabs, spawning grounds for sea trout
5. Lyme Bay Deeps
Where? 1055 sq km in south-west of Lyme Bay
Why? Area used by white beaked dolphins for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Also important for common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise. Basking shark and minke whale also recorded here. Feeding grounds for seabirds such as guillemot, razorbill and Balearic shearwater
6. Morte Platform
Where? Bristol Channel, 5km off Baggy Point
Why? Rich communities of subtidal living reefs including ross worm reefs and mussel beds which provide shelter for many other marine species
7. North-west of Lundy
Where? Bristol Channel, north-west of Lundy
Why? Diverse seabed habitats supporting higher than average range of species, including burrowing worms, clams and anemones.
8. Otter Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Budleigh Salterton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds such as curlew and lapwing. Nursery areas for several fish species
9. Taw/Torridge Estuary 
Where? North Devon, near Barnstaple and Bideford
Why? Important habitat for migratory European eels, feeding grounds for wading birds, nursery area for fish such as bass
Further Information
Read “The case for more Marine Conservation Zones” report here

How MPAs can help mitigate impacts of climate change via coastal blue carbon, “fish carbon”, and more

mpa-news-logo-squareSource: MPA News

When nations gathered in Paris last December to forge a pact on climate change, the agreement’s original text made no mention at all of oceans.  Not only did this oversight ignore 71% of Earth’s surface; it also overlooked the fact that marine ecosystems act as an enormous climate control system.

The seas regulate the concentration of atmospheric CO2 worldwide by absorbing and storing it in a variety of ways.  A healthy, resilient ocean – where there is abundant plant life to convert CO2 to oxygen, and abundant animal populations to store carbon in their shells, bodies, and wastes – may be key to helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Marine protected areas can play a role in fostering that healthy, resilient ocean.  To be sure, addressing the enormous threat of global climate change will require much, much more than just MPAs.  But MPAs do offer legitimate ways to store carbon and to offset some of the impacts of a changing climate.  And practitioners are starting to explore some of these opportunities.

Read more

REMINDER: EUCC-France international conference Littoral 2016

logo_litThe 13th conference of the traditional biennial international event of the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) is  “Littoral 2016” : The changing littoral. Anticipation and adaptation to climate change. The conference will be held in Biarritz (France) from October 25 to October 29, 2016.

The presentation of the conference can be found here: English Presentation-Littoral 2016.

  • Deadline for the early-bird registration: 1st June 2016.

To find more information please consult the following website: littoral2016.univ-pau.fr

Cambridge Conservation Seminars: marine talks

identifier2The series is intended to provide a research and social focus for university lecturers, research staff and postgraduate students interested in conservation research. The primary aim is to inform university colleagues of what research is going on in different departments and to bring in high quality outside speakers. Equally, members of conservation organisations are welcome to attend. A key element is the opportunity after each talk to socialise with colleagues from different departments and organisations.

Cambridge Conservation Seminars, the last two of this academic year.
Large Seminar Room, David Attenborough Building, New Museums Site 

Hook, Line and Extinction: Can science save albatrosses from fisheries?
Richard Philips, British Antarctic Survey
Weds 2nd March 17-18
Impact Evaluation of Protected Areas: what do we know about impacts, moderators and mechanisms?
Paul Ferraro, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Sustainability Studies
Wednesday 9th March 17-18.30

Marine protected areas increase survival of Atlantic cod

Source: Science for Environment Policy

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely used to safeguard marine ecosystems across Europe. This study investigated the effect of a partially protected area (PPA) off the coast of Norway on a population of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). The PPA reduced the number of deaths due to fishing, increased survival and stimulated movement to surrounding areas. The authors say that preventing fishing altogether would increase survival even further and recommend no-take zones in areas where populations are severely reduced.

Marine fish populations are in decline worldwide. Of the 600 marine fish stocks monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 69% are fully or over-exploited1. To rebuild fish populations, MPAs, which ban some or all fishing activities in an area, have become widely used. Under the Natura 2000 network, almost 4% of European waters have been designated as MPAs2. Despite their widespread use, understanding of how MPAs affect harvested fish populations remains poor, especially for areas where some fishing is still permitted (PPAs).

This study investigated the effect of a PPA on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) along the southeast Norwegian coast of Skagerrak. In 2006, a 1 km2 PPA was established in the region, where only hook and line fishing and research sampling (which involves fixed nets that do not harm the fish, so they can be captured and released alive) are permitted.

The researchers wanted to know whether implementation of the PPA changed fishing mortality proportions, and also if the protection caused survival rates to increase. To investigate this, they collected data on live re-captures and dead recoveries of cod before and after its implementation, as well as at several unprotected sites along the coastline.

Data was collected from 2005–2013 along Skagerrak. Each year, from April to July, Atlantic cod were captured, tagged and released, following a ‘Before-After Control-Impact’ approach. The researchers recorded the site where the cod was re-encountered, its body length, and whether the fish was alive.

The data was entered into a ‘capture-recapture model’, which integrated information on the site, time and cause of death with data about individual live fish, to link changes in survival to fishing pressure.

Data from a total of 10 764 fish clearly showed that the PPA had positive effects on the Atlantic cod population. After its implementation, the annual proportion of deaths due to fishing at the site decreased from 0.59 to 0.32 (where 1 = all fish deaths are due to fishing activities). Annual survival increased by 167% for small cod (16–44 cm in size) and 83% for large cod (45–97 cm). The PPA also acted as a source population, as migration into surrounding areas increased in the final years of the study.

Finally, the authors looked at what would happen if the PPA became a ‘no-take zone’, i.e. if no fishing activity were permitted at all. They found that banning fishing activity in the area would further increase annual survival — of large fish by an additional 44% and small fish by 100%. The authors therefore conclude that PPAs benefit Atlantic cod in Skagerrak by reducing fishing mortality, increasing survival and facilitating movement to open areas.

These findings will be important for future management strategies. The authors say MPAs that are no-take zones can increase survival, which may result in increases in population density and beneficial spill over to surrounding areas, and are likely to be most effective in areas where local populations are particularly reduced.

1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: General situation of world fish stocks. See: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf

2. http://biodiversity.europa.eu/topics/protected-areas/marine-protected-areas

Source: Fernández-Chacón, A., Moland, E., Espeland, S. & Olsen, E. (2015). Demographic effects of full vs. partial protection from harvesting: inference from an empirical before-after control-impact study on Atlantic cod. J Appl Ecol, 52, 1206–1215DOI:10.1111/1365-2664.12477