Protected areas are key to biodiversity conservation. While the value of protected areas is generally undisputed, challenges remain. Many areas designated as protected were created for objectives other than biodiversity conservation, and those objectives can conflict with biodiversity conservation. Protected area legal status is, in many cases, impermanent.
Formal and semi-formal networks are emerging as effective, collaborative, and adaptable approaches for addressing complex, rapidly evolving ocean governance issues. One such group of networks, which we refer to as marine-related learning networks, play multifaceted roles within ocean governance systems by facilitating knowledge creation, exchange, and dissemination, and by building the capacity of individuals and institutions to address problems and improve coastal and ocean governance.
Monitoring of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical for marine ecosystem management, yet current protocols rely on SCUBA-based visual surveys that are costly and time consuming, limiting their scope and effectiveness. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a promising alternative for marine ecosystem monitoring, but more direct comparisons to visual surveys are needed to understand the strengths and limitations of each approach.
This Blue Pacific Ocean 2021 Report (BPOR) is indeed a first of its kind. While sectoral approaches to reporting on development and implementation in the various areas of ocean governance has been the norm, the BPOR is unique in the sense that it is the first attempt at the regional level to compile a comprehensive, multi-facetted, cross-cutting and holistic review and stock take of the state of affairs of ocean governance in the region, in the contemporary period.
Effects of whale-based tourism in Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga: Behavioural responses of humpback whales to vessel and swimming tourism activities
Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga, is a well-established whale-watching destination in the South Pacific. Between July and October, the waters around the archipelago represent one of the most important breeding grounds for Oceania humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The Tongan government allows tourist swimming activities with whales and tour operators strongly promote the practice of swimming-with-whales, focusing primarily on mother-calf pairs.
Minimizing cross-realm threats from land-use change: A national-scale conservation framework connecting land, freshwater and marine systems
There is a growing recognition that conservation strategies should be designed accounting for cross-realm connections, such as freshwater connections to land and sea, to ensure effectiveness of marine spatial protection and minimize perverse outcomes of changing land-use. Yet, examples of integration across realms are relatively scarce, with most targeting priorities in a single realm, such as marine or freshwater, while minimizing threats originating in terrestrial ecosystems.
Gender equality is a mainstream principle of good environmental governance and sustainable development. Progress toward gender equality in the fisheries sector is critical for effective and equitable development outcomes in coastal countries. However, while commitments to gender equality have surged at global, regional and national levels, little is known about how this principle is constructed, and implemented across different geographies and contexts. Consequently, progress toward gender equality is difficult to assess and navigate.
How far have we come? A review of MPA network performance indicators in reaching qualitative elements of Aichi Target 11
Effective networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) are explicitly recognized and called for in international biodiversity conservation strategies such as the Aichi Targets. While various indicators have been proposed to assess effectiveness of individual MPAs, no comprehensive set of indicators exists for MPA networks, particularly for Aichi Target 11. The qualitative elements of this target recognize the value of social, economic, governance, and ecological factors in achieving effective biodiversity conservation.
Community-based management and co-management are mainstream approaches to marine conservation and sustainable resource management. In the tropical Pacific, these approaches have proliferated through locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs). LMMAs have garnered support because of their adaptability to different contexts and focus on locally identified objectives, negotiated and implemented by stakeholders. While LMMA managers may be knowledgeable about their specific sites, broader understanding of objectives, management actions and outcomes of local management efforts remain limited.
Occurrence and abundance of meso and microplastics in sediment, surface waters, and marine biota from the South Pacific region
Data on the occurrence and abundance of meso and microplastics for the South Pacific are limited and there is urgent need to fill this knowledge gap. The main aim of the study was to apply a rapid screening method, based on the fluorescence tagging of polymers using Nile red, to determine the concentration of meso and microplastics in biota, sediment and surface waters near the capital cities of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. A spatial investigation was carried out for sediment, biota and water as well as a temporal assessment for sediment for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018).