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Preparing marine protected areas to survive global change: additional guidelines to address coral bleaching

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R. Salm
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This paper describes guidelines for marine protected area (MPA) design and management that take into account the significant global problem of coral bleaching. The author's central tenet is that MPAs should be in part chosen for coral resilience to bleaching.Despite significant coral destruction from bleaching, it is agreed that there is also significant bleaching resistance (coral colonies that don’t bleach or bleach but don’t die)and resilience (reefs where colonies bleach and partially or wholly die, but the coral community recovers) among reef systems. A logical response to bleaching is therefore that policy-makers and resource managers should include reefs containing these factors within MPA networks. The paper also stresses the need to assist the recovery of bleached coral reefs by protecting them from siltation, pollution, overfishing, and other destructive practices.This document represents part of a response to bleaching that includes includes worldwide assessments, research, and monitoring that will be designed to provide solid scientific evidence to verify current information regarding the contribution of environmental factors to bleaching resistance and resilience. The reliability of these factors will be tested and applied to generate additional MPA selection criteria and design principles.The first of these suggested design principles is 'survivability', whereby the variability in intensity of bleaching, species affected, depth, and geographic distribution, and how much mortality a bleaching event causes is considered and the most resilient corals protected. Alongside the usual criteria for choice of MPAs, notably tourism and fisheries protection, therefore,resistance, resilience and linkages to other reefs should also be considered. The author considers in some detail the factors that should be addressed in MPA selection criteria, which include the usual factors accepted previously but add survivability.