Marine Management Areas of the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) is committed to caring for our marine environment, and as part of this we aim to establish Marine Management Areas for the Falkland Islands. These areas will seek to balance conservation as a primary objective with the sustainable economic and social development needs of the Falkland Islands. This is an important initiative that is anticipated to significantly enhance biodiversity protections for the marine environment of the Falkland Islands.
Areas have been identified as potential sites for Marine Management Areas (Figure 1), following seven years of research and scientific projects conducted by the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), working at first within and then (after devolvement of SAERI from government in 2017) in collaboration with FIG.
The proposed Falkland Islands Marine Management Areas were initially identified as part of ‘Assessing Fishing Closure Areas as Sites’ (AFCAS) as potential Marine Managed Areas during the MSP Phase II project. The stakeholder consultation and workshops associated with AFCAS identified the requirement for more data and analysis to support the proposed Marine Management Areas. This was the genesis for the current Marine Management Areas initiative ‘Fine scaling the design of Falkland Islands Marine Management Areas’ funded by the Darwin Plus program in 2017.
The work has now reached the stage of policy formulation, which is being led by the Government, with SAERI providing technical and scientific support. The next stage will be public consultation. This is anticipated in early 2022.
Figure 1. Map of sites identified as potential Marine Management Areas
The areas identified from research include:
- Sustainable Multi-use Zones
- An inshore area extending 3 NM from the baseline, covering 18,138 km2
- An offshore area in the southern section of the Falkland Conservation Zone that covers 38,938 km2, encompassing the area below (deeper than) the 200 m depth of the Burdwood Bank
- Five areas have been identified as prospective National Marine Nature Reserves – the waters around:
- Jason Islands (1,541 km2)
- Kidney & Cochon Islands (12 km2)
- Bird Island (140 km2)
- Beauchêne Island (129 km2)
- The upper 200 m of the Burdwood Bank (8,160 km2); i.e. that part of the Bank above (shallower than) the 200 m depth.
The process up until the present point can be summarised as follows:
- 2014: Marine Spatial Planning Process started in 2014 – working towards the development of a Marine Spatial Planning systems and Toolbox (Darwin Plus Project ‘Marine Spatial Planning in the Falkland Islands’ DPLUS027)
- 2017: Since 2017 there has been a focus on the establishment of Marine Management Areas that seek to balance conservation as a primary objective with the sustainable economic and social development needs of the Falkland Islands
- Phase II of the Marine Spatial Planning Project covered three key aspects: 1) Assessment of Fishing Closure Areas as Sites (AFCAS) as potential Marine Management Areas against international criteria for Marine Protected Areas; 2) A review of the current legislative gaps for the implementation of Marine Spatial Planning, and; 3) The drafting of a long-term strategy for the future of Marine Spatial Planning in the Falkland Islands.
- The AFCAS process identified sites as National Marine Nature Reserves and Sustainable Multi-use Zones.
- 2018-2021: SAERI’s ‘Fine scaling the design of Falkland Islands Marine Management Areas’ project (MMA project, DPLUS071) collected and collated large amounts of data, including ecological and economic data, to understand the importance of the identified Marine Management Areas designs and their economic impacts.
The next steps in the process are consultation and fine-scale policy development, to be led by the Government. A further submission will then be provided to ExCo to consider adopting the concept and the designation of Marine Management Areas subject to legal drafting.