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

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