Over the last few years, The Nature Conservancy has become more focused on measuring the success of our conservation activities.

Recently, I visited Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea, and helped our field team develop strategy effectiveness measures for establishing a resilient network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Bay. These measures are specifically designed to determine if our conservation activities are having the desired effect.

Preliminary results suggest that the strategy complies with scientific principles for designing resilient networks of MPAs and implementation of the design is well underway. To date, six communities have already established Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in five of the 14 areas identified as a high priority for conservation in the design. Sixteen more communities are midway through the process of establishing LMMAs in one of these five areas and three others. And the Kimbe team have begun preliminary discussions with clan leaders regarding establishing LMMAs in the remaining six areas.

However, a more detailed analysis showed that most of the LMMAs have been zoned for different levels of use, and most of the no-take areas are small (< 1km2), much smaller than 10-20km currently recommended by science.

“Based on these results, the Kimbe Bay team will now work with local communities to explain the benefits of no-take areas, and encourage them to include more and larger no-take areas in their LMMAs” says Barbara Masike, Kimbe Bay Project Manager.

At the same time, we’ll use the results of this study to highlight the need for scientists to provide more practical advice for designing resilient networks of small LMMAs.

(Image 1: The Conservancy’s Freda Paiva helping a community representative put up a sign in one of their “Tambu Areas”, where fishing nets and destructive fishing methods (poison rope) are prohibited. Credit: TNC. Image 2: The Conservancy’s Freda Paiva (third from left) assisting local communities identify where to place their Locally Managed Marine Areas. Credit: Barbara Masike/TNC.)

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