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


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.


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.


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