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


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.


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.


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.