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CEC Presents Guidelines for Designing Climate-Resilient MPAs

23 October 2012: The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has presented a set of scientific guidelines for designing marine protected areas (MPAs) that are resilient to climate change. The Guidelines were developed by the CEC in collaboration with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea's (ICES) Study Group on Designing Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate (SGMPAN).

The "Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate" were launched officially on 23 October 2012, at the Restore America's Estuaries Conference held in Tampa, Florida. They are are broken into four sections on protection of: species and habitats with crucial ecosystem roles or those of special conservation concern; carbon sinks; ecological linkages and connectivity pathways for a broad range of species; and biodiversity within the target biogeographic area.

The Guidelines are intended to provide general guidance to scientists and MPA planners and managers in their efforts to design, connect, manage, assess and adapt MPAs and MPA networks to be resilient to climate change at national and continental scales. In November 2012, the CEC will publish a practical guide to implementing the Guidelines. Although developed for MPAs in Canada, Mexico and the US, the CEC expressed the hope that its Guidelines will be considered a pilot for efforts elsewhere to adopt similar guidelines on MPAs and climate change.

The CEC was created by Canada, Mexico and the US to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). ICES is a network of over 1600 scientists from 200 institutes linked by an intergovernmental agreement among 20 countries (the 1964 ICES Convention) to add value to national research efforts on oceanography, the marine environment, the marine ecosystems, and on living marine resources in the North Atlantic. [CEC Press Release] [CEC Guidelines]