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

Implement ICCAT obligations for offshore waters, supply data on recreational catches and introduce minimum landing size for billfish into inshore fisheries legislation

Outcomes

Ascension achieves full compliance with ICCAT obligations across its entire EEZ.

Targets

Year 1: Establish catch reporting system including logbooks and associated information campaign for recreational fishermen

Year 5: Ascension achieving and reporting compliance with all ICCAT obligations. Catch data being supplied by at least 70% of recreational fishermen

Threats addressed

IUU fishing, poorly-managed recreational fishery, poorly-managed sports fishery

Strategic objectives delivered

4. To achieve effective governance and management of the MPA that is transparent and underpinned by sustainable financial and human resources

Operational objectives delivered

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

Yellowfin tuna, Atlantic blue marlin, wahoo, green turtle, Galapagos shark

Priority

High

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

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.

Outcomes

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.

Target

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

Priority

High

Description

Identify the presence of any genetic sub-populations of charismatic or exploited species within the MPA. Update the Wildlife Protection Ordinance and feed into development of Inshore Fisheries legislation to include genetically-distinct populations

Outcomes

Management and protection at the population level through inclusion of genetically-distinct populations in the WPO and Inshore Fisheries Ordinance

Targets

Year 1: Identify potential research partners.

Year 5: Evidence for inclusion of separate sub-populations of one species considered.

Threats addressed

Commercial fishing outside the MPA

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
Operational objectives delivered

1f. No loss of genetically distinct sub-populations from inshore or offshore areas

Habitats and species protected

Bigeye tuna, Yellowfin tuna, Rock hind grouper

Priority

Medium