How will we manage the MPA?

achievING our objectives

Common octopus - Jude Brown
Common octopus - Jude Brown

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This section describes the actions we will take to achieve the MPA’s objectives

Boatswainbird Island - Nicola Weber
Boatswainbird Island - Nicola Weber

This involves not only preventing or restricting damaging activities that threaten the MPA but also restoring, improving, researching and sharing Ascension’s amazing marine environment.

The MPA is going to be around forever and it will be a long journey to achieve everything we want. In the first five years covered by this plan, we have focused on the actions that will achieve the greatest positive change to the MPA within our resources (more detail of how we determined this is given in the MPA Showing our Workings document). This means there are no actions linked to substantial threats such as ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures because we simply don’t have the management tools to address them. It also means ambitious aspirations to develop Ascension as a global science hub will have to be achieved in stages and the futuristic submarine laboratory complex will have to wait until the next phase.

Green turtle on Pan Am Beach - Matt Wall

The designation of the MPA was underpinned by sound science and this evidence-based approach is carried forward into the management of the site. Where possible we have designed management actions based on existing data and experience of what will be effective. However, we know we don’t have all the answers from the start so targets, monitoring and refinement of our management will be essential. How we will do this is described in the Monitoring and Evaluation section.

The actions are arranged so that they can be filtered to show those that contribute to achieving different strategic or operational objectives, the ones that counter specific threats to the MPA and those actions that help protect particular species and habitats. Alternatively, you can choose to see them all and realise how busy we will be for the next five years.

Action table

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Operational objective

Description

MPA-related regulations and those in other pieces of domestic legislation that are relevant to the MPA are effectively enforced to ensure there is a high level of compliance and support amongst those using the MPA.

Outcomes

Major threats to the objectives of the MPA are successfully controlled through legislation. The Ascension community and people visiting the island are aware of and support the legislation.

Targets

Year 1: Regulations are drafted following consultation and introduced along with a public information campaign. MPA Officers are warranted and trained to carry out enforcement action. Remote surveillance of offshore zone effectively undertaken by Blue Belt Surveillance and Intelligence Hub (BBSIH).

Year 5: Detected infringement of the regulations is at a low level. Appropriate enforcement action is taken in all cases of infringement by either AIGCFD in the inshore zone and BBSIH in the offshore zone. There is a high level of support for enforcement activities amongst the island population.

Threats addressed

IUU fishing, poorly-managed recreational fishery, poorly-managed sports fishery, marine litter, spill incident, disturbance from tourism, development, mineral extraction

Strategic objectives delivered

1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health

4. To achieve effective governance and management of the MPA that is transparent and underpinned by sustainable financial and human resources

Operational objectives delivered

1b. Proxy objective: Surveillance, compliance and enforcement regime effectively detects all known threats to offshore ecosystems

4a. The Legal and operational framework for the MPA (Primary and secondary legislation, regulations, management plan) is fit-for-purpose and enforcement action is effective.

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, pelagic waters around seamounts, benthic habitats on seamounts, epipelagic ocean, mesopelagic ocean, bathypelagic ocean, hydrothermal vents, lower slopes of Ascension Island and seamounts, flat abyssal plains.

Green turtle, land crab, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern, rock hind grouper, moray eel, glasseye snapper, spiny lobster, endemic inshore fish species, Ascension goby, Galapagos shark, common octopus, shrimps of the anchialine pools, corals, sponges, coralline algae, bryozoan, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, silky shark, rainbow runner, bluntnose sixgill shark, Lophelia coral, humpback whale, blue shark.

Priority

High

Description

Conduct regular volunteer litter clearance events to prevent the accumulation of marine plastics and other debris. This will be done around beaches and on SCUBA in shallow water habitats.

Outcomes

Beaches and coastal areas are kept free of litter. The Ascension community becomes involved in positive action to protect the MPA.

Targets

Year 1: Four beach cleans involving a minimum 80 people undertaken

Year 5: The four most popular beaches are cleaned every six months. Other sites cleaned annually. Two dive cleans undertaken at popular fishing sites each year. In total, a minimum of 120 people involved.

Threats adressed

Marine litter

Low public support for the MPA and marine conservation

Strategic objective delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objective delivered

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, green turtle, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern

Priority

High

Description

Implement the Biosecurity Strategy and associated legislation that establish inspections of vessel hulls and ballast water records, surveillance monitoring and measures to reduce the risk of non-native species introductions to Ascension.

Outcomes

The risk of introductions of new non-native species to marine and coastal habitats on Ascension is minimised through pre-border prevention measures and the interception or early detection of species that do arrive.

Targets

Year 1: Introduce biosecurity legislation including standards that all incoming vessels and imports must meet to gain entry clearance. Begin a system of risk-based inspection and regular surveillance monitoring.

Year 5: Biosecurity inspections are a routine part of entry procedures to Ascension. Entry and import standards have been refined based on experience. Regular surveillance monitoring is undertaken, including eDNA sampling and visual transects.

Threats addressed

New non-native species

Strategic objectives delivered

To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health

Operational objectives delivered

1c. No loss of species and no reduction of species abundance or ecosystem complexity in inshore areas

1f. No loss of genetically distinct sub-populations from inshore or offshore areas

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, rock hind grouper, moray eel, glasseye snapper, spiny lobster, black triggerfish, endemic inshore fish species, Ascension goby, common octopus, rock oyster, rustic rock snail, white-striped cleaner shrimp, shrimps of the anchialine pools, Ascension lightfoot crab, black longspined and rock boring oyster, bearded fireworm, corals, sponges, coralline algae, bryozoan

Priority

High

Description

Control invasive non-native species in coastal Nature Reserves to protect sea turtle and seabird nesting habitat and maintain the natural character of these sites. This will be achieved through the mechanical removal and chemical control of invasive plant species and the targeted poisoning of rodents around sensitive sites.

Outcomes

Spread of invasive non-native vegetation, in particular vigorous woody species, is halted or reversed. Rodent populations are reduced to below the level where they pose a significant threat to overall breeding success of seabirds and turtles.

Targets

Year 1: Complete eradication of non-native shrubs in buffer areas around all coastal nature reserves. Establish rodent monitoring protocol

Year 5: Extend buffer zones clear of non-native plant buffers further from coastal nature reserves. Targeted rodent control programme initiated around all coastal nature reserves

Threats addressed

Existing non-native species

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives delivered

1c. No loss of species and no reduction of species abundance or ecosystem complexity in inshore areas

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus

green turtle, land crab, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern

Priority

High

Description

Review and improve on-island pollution control measures and spill response capability through implementation of recommendations in the Marine Pollution Control Plan

Outcomes

Adequate control and mitigation measures in place for all known potential sources of pollution in the MPA

Targets

Year 1: Marine pollution control plan published and pollution response capability assessed by Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Year 5: Adequate bunding and spill control measures in place around all fuel storage sites. Effective treatment and disposal of all waste effluents. Emergency spill containment plans and equipment in place.

Threats addressed

Marine litter

Land-based sources of pollution

Spill incident

Noise pollution

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives delivered

1c. No loss of species and no reduction of species abundance or ecosystem complexity in inshore areas

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, pelagic waters around seamounts, benthic habitats on seamounts, epipelagic ocean, mesopelagic ocean, bathypelagic ocean, hydrothermal vents, lower slopes of Ascension Island and seamounts, flat abyssal plains.

Green turtle, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern, rock hind grouper, moray eel, glasseye snapper, spiny lobster, black triggerfish, endemic inshore fish species, Ascension goby, Galapagos shark, common octopus, rock oyster, rustic rock snail, white-striped cleaner shrimp, shrimps of the anchialine pools, Ascension lightfoot crab, black longspined and rock boring oyster, bearded fireworm, corals, sponges, coralline algae, bryozoan, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, silky shark, rainbow runner, bluntnose sixgill shark, Lophelia coral, humpback whale, blue shark, flying fish, plankton, vestimentiferan tubeworm, rimicaris shrimp, bathymodiolus mussels, grenadiers

Priority

High

Description

Introduce Inshore Fisheries Management Strategy underpinned by legislation. This will establish a stakeholder-led adaptive management system to regulate inshore fisheries based on data collected by fishermen and AIGCFD. A public information campaign will be introduced as part of the strategy.

Outcomes

Adaptive management system overseen by the Inshore Fisheries Advisory Committee that intervenes with effective and proportionate management measures to prevent stocks falling below sustainable levels. The fishing community understands the need for regulations and feels involved in the management process ensuring good compliance with the regulations.

Target

Year 1: Inshore Fisheries management system and legislation introduced following public consultation. Designs for information leaflets and signs completed

Year 5: Monitoring system in place for all exploited stocks. Catch data being supplied by at least 70% of fishermen. Annual assessments made on exploited stocks by the IFAC. Evidence-based management measures agreed and introduced if required. Information campaign in place.

Threats addressed

Poorly-managed recreational fishing

Poorly-managed sports fishing

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
  1. To promote the sustainable development of social and economic activities in the MPA that are compatible with protection of the marine environment
Operational objectives delivered

1c. No loss of species and no reduction of species abundance or ecosystem complexity in inshore areas

1e. Maintain the size distribution and age at maturity of species in inshore areas

1f. No loss of genetically distinct sub-populations from inshore or offshore areas

2a. People living on Ascension have access to recreational and fishing opportunities in the MPA that are equitably shared and enjoyed by the community

2b. As a minimum, no harvested fish stocks in inshore areas fall below maximum sustainable yield

2c. Ecological relationships between harvested, dependent and related species are maintained in inshore areas

Habitats and species protected

Rock hind grouper, moray eel, spiny lobster, glasseye snapper, common octopus, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, rainbow runner, green turtle, Ascension frigatebird, sooty tern, Galapagos shark

Priority

High

Description

Conduct annual horizon scanning exercise to identify threats to the MPA not currently being managed. This will be achieved by reviewing activities underway or proposed in the Ascension MPA and the experience of other MPAs in the Blue Belt and Big Ocean networks. Newly-identified threats will be incorporated into management and monitoring workplans as appropriate.

Outcomes

New potential threats are identified and managed before they cause significant damage to the MPA.

Targets

Year 1: Threat assessment published

Year 5: Annual threat assessments published. Management and monitoring of all significant new threats incorporated into the next Annual Workplan and Monitoring Plan

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives delivered

1b. Proxy objective: Surveillance, compliance and enforcement regime effectively detects all known threats to offshore ecosystems

1d Proxy objective: Monitoring, regulation and management regime effectively tackles all known threats to inshore ecosystems

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, pelagic waters around seamounts, benthic habitats on seamounts, epipelagic ocean, mesopelagic ocean, bathypelagic ocean, hydrothermal vents, lower slopes of Ascension Island and seamounts, flat abyssal plains

Priority

High

Description

Establish effective surveillance, compliance and enforcement regime to prevent illegal commercial fishing within the MPA. This will use a risk-based approach and be based on remote satellite surveillance technology and enforcement via the flag state of offending vessels. More detail is provided in the Offshore Fisheries Compliance and Enforcement Strategy

Outcomes

Effective detection of suspect vessels and enforcement via ICCAT and Flag States deters illegal fishing in the MPA and prevents the unsustainable harvest of target and bycatch species.

Targets

Year 1: Surveillance system in operation based on risk assessment. Staff trained. System for assessing effectiveness of surveillance designed

Year 5: All cases of suspect vessels in the MPA are investigated and appropriate enforcement action taken. Evidence collection is always of the standard required for prosecution. Failures in investigations and enforcement are analysed and used to refine procedures and capture lessons learnt.

Threats addressed

IUU fishing in the MPA

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives delivered

1a. No loss of species and no reduction in species abundance or ecosystem complexity in offshore areas

1b. Proxy objective: Surveillance, compliance and enforcement regime effectively detects all known threats to offshore ecosystems

Habitats and species protected

Pelagic waters around seamounts, epipelagic ocean, mesopelagic ocean, bathypelagic ocean, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, blue shark, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, green turtle, Ascension frigatebird, sooty tern, Galapagos shark, silky shark, humpback whale

Priority

High

Description

Remove the legacy concrete structures and invasive tree roots from Long Beach. Where feasible, remove barriers to the landward migration of beaches.

Outcomes

Long Beach is returned to a natural state of erosion and deposition with fewer obstacles for nesting turtles. Beaches are able to migrate landward where this is possible.

Targets

Year 1: Identify barriers to the landward migration of beaches.

Year 5 all concrete structures and invasive tree roots removed from Long Beach. Barriers to landward migration of beaches removed where this is feasible.

Threats addressed

Sea level rise

Development

Strategic objective delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objective delivered

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, Green turtles

Priority

Medium

Description

Establish effective development control and/or licensing system incorporating robust Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Outcomes

All development proposals in or adjacent to the MPA are assessed and activities potentially damaging to the MPA are modified or mitigated.

Targets

Year 1: Pilot EIA process with developments undertaken by Ascension Island Government Operations Directorate

Year 5: EIA and development control process and/or legislation in place covering all developments in or adjacent to the MPA

Threats addressed

Development

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
  2. To promote the sustainable development of social and economic activities in the MPA that are compatible with protection of the marine environment
Operational objectives delivered

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

2f. Future developments are assessed and designed to be compatible with the conservation objectives of the MPA

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, rocky reefs, sandy substrates, rhodolith beds, green turtle, land crab, corals, sponges, coralline algae, bryozoans

Priority

High

Description

Identify the presence of any genetic sub-populations of charismatic or exploited species within the MPA. Update the Wildlife Protection Ordinance and feed into development of Inshore Fisheries legislation to include genetically-distinct populations

Outcomes

Management and protection at the population level through inclusion of genetically-distinct populations in the WPO and Inshore Fisheries Ordinance

Targets

Year 1: Identify potential research partners.

Year 5: Evidence for inclusion of separate sub-populations of one species considered.

Threats addressed

Commercial fishing outside the MPA

Poorly-managed recreational fishing

Poorly-managed sports fishing

Strategic objectives delivered
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives delivered

1f. No loss of genetically distinct sub-populations from inshore or offshore areas

Habitats and species protected

Bigeye tuna, Yellowfin tuna, Rock hind grouper

Priority

Medium

Description

Review the National Protected Areas Ordinance, Wildlife Protection Ordinance and Harbours Ordinance to ensure they are compatible with the MPA Regulations and effective at preventing damaging activities in the MPA

Outcomes

Up-to-date legislation and schedule with operational and legal capacity to enforce penalties

Targets

Year 1: NPA and Harbour Ordinances reviewed and deficiencies identified

Year 5: Updated Ordinances drafted as required

Threats addressed

Marine litter

Land-based sources of pollution

Noise pollution

Disturbance from tourism

Development

Strategic objectives addressed
  1. To conserve Ascension Island’s marine biodiversity, habitats and ecological functions for long-term ecosystem health
Operational objectives assessed

1c. No loss of species and no reduction of species abundance or ecosystem complexity in inshore areas

1g. No reduction in the extent or condition of key habitats

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, pelagic waters around seamounts, benthic habitats on seamounts, epipelagic ocean, mesopelagic ocean, bathypelagic ocean, hydrothermal vents, lower slopes of Ascension Island and seamounts, flat abyssal plains.

Green turtle, land crab, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern, rock hind grouper, moray eel, glasseye snapper, spiny lobster, endemic inshore fish species, Ascension goby, Galapagos shark, common octopus, shrimps of the anchialine pools, corals, sponges, coralline algae, bryozoan, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, silky shark, rainbow runner, bluntnose sixgill shark, Lophelia coral, humpback whale, blue shark.

Priority

Medium