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


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.


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.


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