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Biophysical principles for designing resilient networks of marine protected areas to integrate fisheries, biodiversity and climate change objectives in the Coral Triangle

Fernandes, Leanne; Green, Alison; Tanzer, John; White, Alan; Alino, Porfirio M.; Jompa, Jamaluddin; Lokani, Paul; Soemodinoto, Arisetiarso; Knight, Maurice; Pomeroy, Bob; Possingham, Hugh; Pressey, Bob

Citation: Fernandes, L, Green, A., Tanzer, J., White, A., Alino, P.M., Jompa, J., Lokani, P., Soemodinoto, A., Knight, M., Pomeroy, B., Possingham, H., Pressey, B. 2012. Biophysical principles for designing resilient networks of marine protected areas to integrate fisheries, biodiversity and climate change objectives in the Coral Triangle. Report prepared by The Nature Conservancy for the Coral Triangle Support Partnership, 152 pp.

The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and its six member countries (CT6) have committed to establishing a Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System, applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, and applying climate change adaptation measures. Developing a robust and practical set of principles to underpin establishment of marine protected area networks that contribute meaningfully to food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change resilience is an important part of contributing to that challenge.

The USAID funded Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP) is a five-year project to provide technical support to the CT6 in achieving their goals. The CTSP is the part of USAID’s support to the CTI, along with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Department of State, and additional contract support through a Program Integrator. One of the primary objectives of the Regional CTI Plan of Action (RPOA) is the establishment of a regional Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System (CTMPAS) that protects “each major near-shore habitat type within the Coral Triangle Region (e.g. coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, beaches, coastal forests, wetland areas and marine/offshore habitat)”. This objective is mirrored in each CT country’s National Plan of Action (NPOA). In line with the RPOA and NPOAs, CTSP’s support for the CTMPAS focuses upon the nearshore habitats of the CT.

Biophysical principles are presented in this report to help nearshore marine protected area networks achieve fisheries sustainability, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. These principles can be considered rules-of-thumb to help guide decision making. In the past, such principles and associated rules-of-thumb have focused on only one or two of these objectives – not all three simultaneously.

Effective management of marine resources that achieves resilience and sustainable production requires careful application of a wide range of tools and methods, which includes marine protected areas. Management interventions are likely to be most effective if they are applied as part of an ecosystem-based approach. Marine protected areas, in their various forms can, if well designed and effectively implemented, play a significant role in achieving sustainable use at multiple scales.