Marine Protected Area 5-year Review – Update
The Government recently commenced the first 5-year review of its marine protected area (MPA). Written submissions have been invited from stakeholders to inform the review process and these will published on the Government’s website, together with future updates, at www.gov.gs/environment/marine-protected-area/. Work has also taken place, via a British Antarctic Survey-hosted workshop, to review existing data and research relevant to the MPA including research undertaken since the MPA was designated. This will help to identify the requirements for future research and will form part of the background to the review process.
The Government is aware of some recent media interest in the review process. While the Government is grateful for this interest it is engaging widely with stakeholders to ensure it is able to take into account the full range of stakeholder views in the review process. An ad-hoc advisory panel has been constituted by the Government comprising representation from scientists, fishing operators, non-governmental organisations and external experts. This will convene in November 2017 for a two-day workshop and tasked to report to Government by end-May 2018.
The MPA review will assess progress towards achieving the objectives of the sustainable use MPA as set out in the Government’s Management Plan. It will evaluate current data collection, research and monitoring programmes and contribute to priorities for future scientific research, including any new research and monitoring that may be necessary.
The South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) sustainable use MPA was established in 2012. Its establishment reflected the Government’s commitment to the sustainable management of this UK Overseas Territory and its desire to protect and conserve the region’s rich and diverse marine life, whilst allowing sustainable and carefully regulated fisheries with the South Georgia Patagonian toothfish fishery being one of the highest scoring Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries in the world. The MPA directly contributes to the UK’s international commitments for the sustainable management of fish stocks and the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems. Following the initial designation, additional protection measures were introduced in 2013. The Government committed to monitor activities throughout the MPA and to undertake a review every 5 years.