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The role of marine protected areas for biodiversity conservation and for science Keith Hiscock Marine Biological Association, UK 39 th Congress.

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Presentation on theme: "The role of marine protected areas for biodiversity conservation and for science Keith Hiscock Marine Biological Association, UK 39 th Congress."— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of marine protected areas for biodiversity conservation and for science Keith Hiscock Marine Biological Association, UK 39 th Congress of the Italian Society of Marine Biologists Cesenatico June 2008 Presentation available from:

2 Marine Protected Areas in the UK are almost all within Special Areas of Conservation (EU Directive) There only three Marine Nature Reserves established under UK law. Strangford Lough Lundy Skomer Map from the WWF-UK Marine Biodiversity Hotspots report (see: and slightly out-of-date. 2

3 3 Image: Adrian Pingstone The UK Context 3 The draft Marine Bill includes provisions for ‘Marine Conservation Zones’

4 The presentation Why MPAs and especially highly protected marine nature reserves are needed. The identification of ‘Nationally Important Marine Features’ – species and habitats – to inform selection of areas. Case study from the UK’s only Highly Protected Marine Nature Reserve at Lundy. Defining a ‘Marine Protected Area’ The UK Marine Protected Areas Centre (www.ukmpas.org). 4 Conclusions

5 Defining a ‘Marine Protected Area’ (MPA) The draft Marine Bill sets out measures that will enable the establishment of Marine Conservation Zones in England and Wales. MPAs are established primarily for the conservation of marine biodiversity and to protect species and habitats of international or national importance. The main types of MPA in the UK are Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Nature Reserves, which are protected by legal measures, and voluntary MPAs such as Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas and Voluntary Marine Nature Reserves. In the UK: Adapted from text in “Marine Protected Area” (MPA) is a term used across the globe to describe: "any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment" (IUCN, 1988 / Kelleher and Kenchington, 1992¹). ¹ Kelleher, G.G., and R.A. Kenchington Guidelines for Establishing Marine Protected Areas. A Marine Conservation and Development Report. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 5

6 Why MPAs and especially highly protected marine nature reserves are needed. 1. For the protection of the ‘ecosystem goods and services’ that biodiversity provides¹, ². 4. To maintain the value of diverse communities in providing resistance and resilience to change in marine communities. 3. For the conservation of biodiversity, including protection of rare, scarce and threatened species and habitats. 5. For scientific study in areas that are as close as possible to natural (and therefore provide reference points). 2. As a way of increasing fish stocks by providing refugia from where export of larvae and adults will occur (addressed in 5.). ¹ Beaumont, N.J. et al. 2007, Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity: implications for the ecosystem approach. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 54, ² Beaumont, N.J. et al Economic valuation for the conservation of marine biodiversity. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56,

7 Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans The Science of Marine Reserves (2nd Edition, International Version). For a summary of benefits of marine reserves: 7

8 MPAs are needed for the conservation of biodiversity, including protection of rare, scarce and threatened species 8 For instance (from the UK): Sunset coral, Leptopsammia pruvoti. Nationally rare in the UK. Larva short-lived, settles very near parent. Erect sponge species. Several are very slow-growing & long- lived. For instance Axinella dissimilis growth <1mm a year; species in image are not found colonising new surfaces. Fan mussel, Atrina fragilis. Nationally rare in the UK. Populations devastated by mobile fishing gear.

9 MPAs are needed for the conservation of biodiversity, including protection of rare, scarce and threatened habitats For instance (from the UK): Maerl, Phymatolithon calcareum, beds. Threatened by fish farms, extraction for soil conditioners, scallop dredging. Long-lived & slow-growing. Reefs of the tube worm Serpula vermicularis. Known from one location in the UK. Threatened by organic pollution and mobile fishing gear. Deep sheltered mud. Characteristic of sealochs. Associated communities threatened by dredging for scampi (Nephrops norvegicus). 9

10 10 Defining ‘Nationally Important Marine Features’ ¹ Connor et al Rationale and criteria for the identification of nationally important marine nature conservation features and areas in the UK. Version (Available from: Summary of criteria¹ for species (habitats criteria similar): 1. Proportional Importance A high proportion of the populations of a species occurs within the UK. 2. Rarity Marine species that are sessile or of restricted mobility are considered nationally rare if distribution is restricted to eight or less 10km squares (0.5%) within the 3 mile territorial seas limit of UK waters. 3. Decline An observed, estimated, inferred or suspected significant decline (exceeding expected or known natural fluctuations) in numbers, extent or quality of a marine species in the UK (quality refers to life history parameters). Decline should be at least 25% in the past 25 years where figures are available. 4. Threat of decline It is estimated, inferred or suspected that a species will suffer a significant decline in the foreseeable future as a result of human activity. (Factors included for Biodiversity Action Plans: 1. It is predicted that the species will decline by 50% in a current 25 year period, or in the next 25 years; 2. The species is believed to be long- lived (>25 years) with a low recovery potential and if action is not taken to reverse current trends then the species is likely to become extinct in the next 100 years.)

11 Finding out more about recent mpa developments in the UK:

12 MPAs are needed to maintain the value of diverse communities in providing resistance and resilience to change in marine communities. The main threats are: Physical disturbance and contaminants that reduce species diversity in communities. Introduction of non-native species that become dominant. Climate change impacts on dominant or key functional / structural species. Evidence in the scientific literature is weak, but see, for instance, Bevilacqua et al. 2006¹. 12 ¹ Bevilacqua, S. et al Mitigating human disturbance: can protection influence trajectories of recovery in benthic assemblages? Journal of Ecology, 75,

13 MPAs are needed to restore damaged ecosystems (where restoration is possible) First, wreck your MPA – the case of Strangford Lough SAC mussel beds Restoration zones (October 2007) – but will they work? 13

14 MPAs are needed for studies of species biology and ecosystem functioning in close-as-possible-to-natural situations. The case for protection is based on only a few experimental studies, and a lot of ‘best available experience’, ‘assumptions’ or ‘speculation’. Policy advisors require evidence of adverse effects before supporting restrictions on fishing, recreation etc. MPAs should therefore be used to undertake experimental and observational studies (monitoring) to supply data. [Many studies are needed to increase our relevant knowledge for conservation science, especially using molecular genetics, but those studies do not necessarily need MPAs.] 14

15 Manipulative studies that impact an area – best done outside MPAs or in multiple- use MPAs Arenas, F., Sanchez, I., Hawkins, S.J., and Jenkins, S.R The invasibility of marine algal assemblages: role of functional diversity and identity. Ecology 87(11):

16 MPAs provide facilities for the public to enjoy a healthy marine environment and the species and habitats there. Ultimately, public enjoyment should be expressed as support for strict regulation of existing and establishment of further mpas. But, where education may affect naturalness, in multi-use MPAs. 16

17 Highly Protected Marine Nature Reserves (HPMNRs) are needed so that there are areas as close-as-possible-to-natural for scientific study With HPMNRs, studies can be undertaken to: Separate changes that are occurring as a result of human activities (outside HPMNRs) from natural fluctuations (inside HPMNRs). I.e. using HPMNRs as reference locations. Compare recovery rates and resilience under close-as- possible-to-natural condition (inside HPMNRs) from perturbated situations (outside HPMNRs). Investigate the consequences of removing exploitation on species interactions and community development / change / recovery. 17

18 Photographic monitoring studies – benign activity suitable for HPMNRs Fixed quadrat monitoring in the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve (see: 18

19 Highly Protected Marine Nature Reserves (HPMNRs) are also beneficial as: Areas where otherwise exploited species can thrive, possibly migrating as adults to enhance exploited stocks or producing larvae that enhance stocks. Areas for benign recreational activities where fish and shellfish life as well as sessile benthic species are prolific compared to exploited areas. 19

20 Making the ‘best’ choices for the most effective and beneficial MPA series (‘design criteria’)¹ ¹ Based OSPAR and IUCN criteria in draft guidance on the proposed approach to the selection and designation of Marine Conservation Zones under Part 4 of the draft Marine Bill in the UK. Available from: Representativity Replication Viability 20 Adequacy Maximum connectivity Protection Use best available evidence

21 Getting the best ‘value for money’ in MPAs - identifying marine biodiversity hotspots Marine biodiversity hotspots are areas of high species and habitat richness that include representative, rare and threatened features Measures trialled in the WWF-UK and MBA study: Species richness Biotope richness Candidate NIMF species richness Candidate NIMF biotope richness Average taxonomic distinctness Average biotope distinctness See: Hiscock, K. & Breckels, M Marine Biodiversity Hotspots: identification and protection. Godalming: WWF UK. Available from: 21

22 1. Species Richness and 2. Average taxonomic distinctness for 6 major phyla. Red dots represent ‘hot’ areas or high diversity, green dots represent areas of expected diversity and blue dots show areas with lower than expected diversity We had data for 120 well-surveyed areas and analysed it to identify biodiversity hotspots – examples here: read the report for context 22

23 Lundy Case study (recovery following exploitation) from the UK’s only No- Take Marine Reserve at Lundy 23

24 The No-Take zone is 4.3 km ² General use zone – all activities allowed except spearfishing ‘Refuge zone’ (but fishing with static gear and angling permitted) No-Take zone – no extraction but boating, access to the shore and recreational diving permitted ‘Recreational Zone’ (restrictions as for the Refuge Zone but used for moorings and anchoring) 24

25 Experimental potting for lobsters has shown that No-Take areas can be a success 25 (Lundy No-Take monitoring results are currently being prepared for publication)

26 There are many other examples of fish stocks increasing in HPMNRs, improving stocks and changing benthic communities. For instance in Italy ¹ and New Zealand ². ¹ Guidetti, P Potential of marine reserves to cause community-wide changes beyond their boundaries. Conservation Biology, 21, ² Babcock, R.C. et al Changes in community structure in temperate marine reserves. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 189,

27 A next question to address is “what impact, if any, has the increased lobster population had on other benthic species?” The numbers of Necora puber being caught in traps has fallen since lobster numbers have risen – is there a link? 27

28 Will scallop numbers fall if the lobsters eat the scallops? Identifying changes resulting from protection is essential to predict consequences in new MPAs. And, the time scale may be long¹. ¹ Shears, N.T. & Babcock, R. C Continuing tropic cascade effects after 25 years of no-take marine reserve protection. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 246,

29 The value of strict protection for attached invertebrates will take decades to establish – and will the monitoring be done? Langlois, T.J. and Ballantine W.J Marine ecological research in New Zealand: developing predictive models using no-take marine reserves. Conservation Biology 19:

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32 Conclusions Evidence from MPAs in temperate areas indicates benefits of protection including enhancement of species richness and biomass and enhancement of commercial fish stocks outside. The public will benefit from having areas that are fully protected and that they are allowed access to for benign activities. The public will benefit from having information and educational facilities in multi-use MPAs, and learn to value nature and to support conservation MPAs are needed for research on the biology of species, dynamics of habitats and benefits of protection. 32 HPMNRs should be places where non-destructive research is carried out to compare locations that are ‘close-as-possible-to- natural’ with exploited areas.

33 Thank you Returning to Plymouth from a dive in a proposed Marine Conservation Zone Presentation available from


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