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

Regulations and best practice guidance put in place governing the conduct of sports fishing and ecotourism businesses. Business licence renewal linked to compliance. Regulations and guidelines on avoidance of disturbance to wildlife provided with employment contracts and entry permits and publicised through videos, briefings, leaflets and signs at key locations.

Outcomes

Sportsfishing and tourist activities are conducted sustainably without damaging stocks or disturbing non-target species. Only businesses that adhere to regulations are licensed to operate. Widespread awareness of, and compliance with, regulations and guidance.

Targets

Year 1: Inshore Fisheries legislation covering sports fishing operations drafted and enacted. Review of Business Permit process. Videos, briefing presentations and designs for leaflets and signs produced

Year 5: Best practice guidance documents for sports fishing and ecotourism produced via stakeholder consultation. Signs present at all main tourist areas. Leaflets available at key sites for visitors Video shown at arrivals hall and cinema. Leaflet included with all contract packs.

Threats addressed

Poorly-managed sports fishery

Disturbance from tourism

Strategic objectives delivered

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

2d. Ascension is recognised as one of the world’s best destinations to enjoy responsible sports fishing and ecotourism activities that have no negative impact on the behaviour or health of protected species

Habitats and species protected

Sandy beaches, coastal plateaus, rocky reefs, sandy substrate, rhodolith beds, intertidal pools, anchialine pools, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, green turtle, land crab, Ascension frigatebird, masked booby, sooty tern, Galapagos 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

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

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

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