Building a marine conservation network in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea

Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/26/2017 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

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Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea MPA network was created in order to (1) conserve marine biodiversity and natural resources of Kimbe Bay in perpetuity, and (2) address local marine resource management needs. The natural resources in the region are at risk from overfishing, pollution, sedimentation, and climate-driven changes such as coral bleaching and sea level rise. The Kimbe Bay MPA network is one of the first networks in the world specifically designed to address climate change by incorporating resilience-based principles, including effective management, representation of major habitats, protection of unique sites (e.g., spawning, nesting, nursery areas), and ecological connectivity.

Kimbe Bay is located within the Coral Triangle and includes both shallow (coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass) and deep-water (pelagic, seamounts) habitats. The design of the network was conducted through a six-step process, including workshops, targeted research, and data processing and analysis. In February 2004, the first scientific workshop was held to discuss conservation efforts in Kimbe Bay, define conservation targets, and determine design principles. Conservation targets include shallow and deep-water habitats, rare and threatened species, and commercially important reef species at risk of overfishing. Specific design principles were defined based on biophysical (spreading risk through representation and replication, protecting key sites, incorporating connectivity) and socioeconomic (minimizing negative impacts on livelihoods, protecting areas of cultural importance, evenly distributing costs and benefits, minimizing conflicting uses, protecting tourism sites, accommodating existing shipping infrastructure) principles. Between 2004 and 2006, biologically distinct habitats and their location in the MPA network area were identified, bathymetry and ocean currents were documented, and local stakeholders were surveyed on their use, value, and knowledge of the system. This information was then analyzed in MARXAN, a marine reserve design software, and evaluated with expert and community input to identify 14 Areas of Interest (AOIs) – 52 Fathoms, Baia, Bialla, Buludava, Cape Hoskins/Wulai, Cape Torkoro, Dagi, Garua/Restorf, Heusner, Kaiamu/Sulu, Kapiuru, Kimbe Island, Lolobau, Numundo, and Tarobi. Implementation of the network is coordinated with local communities and governments through the establishment of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs); to date, nine LMMAs have been established in seven of the AOIs. Community members have also been trained on how to monitor for trends and changes to the system, enhancing local participation and management of the system. In 2013, the West New Britain Provincial Government accepted leadership and oversight of the Kimbe Bay Marine Management Area. 


Gregg, R.M. 2017. Building a marine conservation network in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Summary of a project of The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2017)

Project Contact

Alison Green
[email protected]
Paul Lokani 
[email protected]

Affiliated Organizations

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. We partner to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity.


Habitat/Biome Type