Final conference, 30-31 January 2018

The final conference of the project will be held in Brussels on 30-31 January 2018. The aim of the conference is to share the results and experiences of the twinning projects and the impact(s) of MPAs networking activities at the Atlantic level. Experts will present the main findings about MPAs in the Atlantic region summarized in the Scoping Study, developed over the course of the project, including a shared vision about marine conservation for the Atlantic Ocean. See Agenda


Group photo from the Marine Mammals Twinning workshop in Iceland, October 2017

Whales twinning project partners meet in Iceland

A second twinning workshop for the Marine Mammals Protection Twinning Project took place last week in Iceland. A full report will follow soon. In the meantime, here is the group photo.

Puri Canals, session on Transatlantic MPA Project, IMPAC4, Chile

Transatlantic MPA partnership project hosts session at International Marine Protected Areas Congress, Chile

The Transatlantic MPA project hosted several events at the International Congress on Marine Protected Areas, IMPAC4 , in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile, from 4-8 September 2017.

On 5 September, the project team introduced the aims and activities of the EU-funded project at the session, ‘Towards a Transatlantic Partnership of Marine Protected Areas’. Several partners from the three twinning projects – focused on resilience, whales and MPA networks – attended the session.

Sharing resilience strategies

Mike De Luca, of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Jersey, USA, and a partner in the Resilience twinning project, described how growing urbanisation in New Jersey is threatening the ecological integrity of the area’s MPAs, especially the Cousteau Reserve. “I have a lot to gain from our transatlantic partners to identify best management strategies on this topic.”

New Jersey learned many lessons from Superstorm Sandy such as how to help coastal communities prepare to reduce their vulnerability to future storms. “This is an area in which we can transfer resilience strategies to our transatlantic partners,” he said.

Mathieu Ducrocq of the national parks agency of Gabon, where three marine protected areas around the capital, Libreville, are partners in the resilience project, also described how rapid urbanization is threatening protected areas and their buffer zones. In response, the parks agency has taken steps to work with other bodies involved in land management and development to address the problems. The work has been useful, and partially fruitful, but could benefit from a more formal organisation. “The New Jersey experience with the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve playing that role with real capacities has been a true discovery for us, thanks to the project.”

His hope is that, in the rest of this project and beyond, they might, “carry on sharing such experiences; capitalize on good practices together; implement these ourselves and help partner sites to implement them; and push for an evolution of the practices of coastal conservation for a better contribution to building resilient coastal territories.”

Understanding humpback whales

The UK overseas territory of Bermuda is a partner in the marine mammals twinning project. The country’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone is a whale sanctuary, and so the value of taking part in a project to improve knowledge of humpback whale migration paths and enhance conservation of the species was clear. “Whales are a shared population, so working with other regions in their range will increase our understanding of their lifecycle and in turn lead to better conservation overall,” said Sarah Manuel, senior marine conservation officer for the Bermuda government. “We are not part of any other networks so to be included in a collaborative effort such as this is extremely beneficial.”

Better learning through networks and collaboration

Puri Canals, team leader for the Transatlantic MPA partnership project, then introduced the Networks twinning. This builds on links established in recent years between regional networks around the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to boost the visibility of the role and importance of MPA managers, to ensure that MPAs can fulfil the function for which they have been created. Too many MPAs are established on paper but are not managed effectively enough to provide the ecosystem protection intended.

Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, a member of the Transatlantic MPA partnership project advisory board, spoke on behalf of the Caribbean network of MPA managers (CaMPAM). In the Caribbean, she explained, “It was agreed almost 20 years ago that a lot more could be achieved through sharing and collaboration among the MPAs”. This collaboration has been fundamental to management effectiveness, she said.

“This same philosophy is true beyond the Wider Caribbean. Sharing and collaboration across the Atlantic can only enhance the work of our individual networks and accelerate MPA effectiveness, while also contribute at a larger scale to meet international conservation commitments, such as Aichi and SDG14, and enhance cooperation and governance of marine living resources,” she added.

Marie Romani of the Mediterranean network of MPA managers (MedPAN), described how past efforts to develop contacts with other regional networks had been enhanced enormously by the means provided by the transatlantic MPA project to strengthen this collaboration. The networks are now developing a joint strategy – focused on MPA capacity-building, influencing policies at international level and network funding issues – that would not otherwise have been possible, she said.

The networks joined together to make a joint statement at the UN SDG 14 Conference in New York in June 2017. “We found that being four regional MPA networks bringing our voices together is much stronger than speaking alone from one specific region,” she said.

Marie Suzanna Traoré of the West African network of MPAs (RAMPAO) spoke of the value of the project for her region. “This cooperation across the Atlantic basin is critical to the health of oceans, particularly in West African coastal areas where climate change, oil and gas exploitation and illegal fishing present major challenges.

“Connecting MPA managers, local communities and people in general across the Atlantic basin can help to promote conservation of marine resources such as fish stocks and to give hope to thousands of small-scale fishermen in West Africa who depend on oceans for their livelihood,” she said. It would also go some way, she hoped, to giving a voice to MPA managers, who are currently not closely involved in decision-making.

Lauren Wenzel of the North American network of MPAs (NAMPAN), voiced her support for the project, while Phénia Marras, of the French Biodiversity Agency, and Maria Victoria González, from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment’s Biodiversity Foundation, spoke of the value of the project from the perspective of national agencies. “It’s important for mangers of national networks to be part of wider networking initiatives, for capacity building, influencing policies and funding of networks,” said González.

‘We share the same ocean’

Ana Paula Prates of CMBIO Brazil, and also a member of the project’s Advisory Board, underlined the value of the partnership from the broader perspective. “We share the same ocean and the same benefits but also the same problems. We may experience these at different intensities, but the impacts are the same. I believe that a project to build a network at a transatlantic scale, sharing management experiences, is one of the best ways to address the problems and challenges to recover the ocean’s health, recover fishery resources and, together, achieve the desired biodiversity conservation targets in the Atlantic.”

Aylem Hernández, representing the Red Parques network, commended the project, while Omer Ntougou, of the Network of Protected Areas in Central Africa (RAPAC), described how it has enabled RAPAC to learn from the experience of other networks as it sets up its first marine and coastal protected areas. Sandrine Pivard, of the Regional Activity Centre for the SPAW protocol of the Cartagena Convention (for the protection and development of marine environment in the Wider Caribbean Region), also welcomed the partnership project.

“There are many issues associated with the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs that are transboundary, and so a project like this is important to provide information across regions to feed into the overall global picture,” said Joe Appiott, Marine and coastal biodiversity programme officer of the CBD Secretariat, in closing remarks to the session. “This project can also help MPA managers share critical lessons and experiences directly with each other, which is needed now more than ever at the deadlines for these global targets are approaching.”

“This project can also play a key role in supporting MPAs in the Atlantic in adapting to the effects of climate change,” he added. “A forum that gives information on how climate change affects regions across the Atlantic is a fantastic tool for MPA managers to share and learn from what’s happening elsewhere and to adapt to climate-driven effects such as species migration.”










Transatlantic MPA project partners issue Call for Joint Action by MPA networks in the Atlantic

Members of the Transatlantic MPA twinning project for regional and national networks of MPA managers launched a ‘Call for Joint Action by MPA Networks’ today at the IMPAC4 conference in La Serena, Chile.

The networks of MPA managers – from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, West Africa, North America – as well as national agencies of MPAs in France and Spain, issued the joint call for action with a statement committing ‘to working together towards the common goal of building a transatlantic Marine Protected Areas network’.

Puri Canals, team leader for the Transatlantic MPA project, explained the need for the network: ‘to share knowledge and methodologies for capacity building of MPA managers, and for joint advocacy for MPA managers at an international level’.  Other Atlantic rim regional and national MPA networks, besides those who already in the twinning project – from Canada, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, RAPAC from Central Africa and the Marine and Coastal group of Red Parques from South America – recently attended a twinning project workshop in Tenerife, to join the discussion of how networks of MPA managers could work together, for example to develop messages for donors to finance better management of MPAs and capacity-building.

“The Atlantic is where we have started to practise the large networking approach, but we hope launching this call will inspire other regions to network together too,” said Canals.

“Working together is much more efficient for MPAs with limited resources like those in the Caribbean,” said Alessandra Vanzella, speaking for the network of MPA managers in the Caribbean (CaMPAM). “The example of the current hurricane [Irma, today passing through the region] is especially poignant, and underlines why it is important to move quickly, working together and learning from each other.” In the Caribbean, over 300 MPAs have been established, but only 6% meet management objectives, she added.

“We can have greater impact at international fora working together with other MPA networks,” said Marie Romani, of the Mediterranean MPA network (MedPAN). “It will also help us to fundraise at regional, national and sub-national levels.”

“We can learn from each other and we look forward to the next steps,” confirmed Phénia Marras, of the French Biodiversity Agency, a national MPA network.

“Networks can play in crucial role in increasing the capacity of MPA managers across the Atlantic,” concluded Puri Canals.

The Call, which can be downloaded here, was then opened for signature by the countries, managers, donors, scientists and others.

Mike De Luca, director of Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Jersey, USA, signs the Call for Joint Action by MPA Networks

Mike De Luca, director of Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Jersey, USA, signs the Call for Joint Action by MPA Networks











Group picture from Marine mammals twinning, first workshop, St Martin, May 2017

Marine Mammals Twinning workshop: sharing good practice and deciding focus on whales

A first technical workshop for the Marine Mammals’ Protection Twinning (“a way to enhance transatlantic cooperation between MPAs”) took place in Saint-Martin, French West Indies, on 15-17 May 2017.

The participating partners – who attended either in person or via a weblink – presented their respective MPAs, shared their expectations of the twinning project, and discussed issues of interest for potential future collaboration.

Twinning project partners

  • Filipe Mora Porteiro presented the Marine Park of the Azores, Portugal (Azores Autonomous Region);
  • Sarah Manuel presented the Marine Mammal Sanctuary, Bermuda (UK Overseas Territory);
  • Romain Renoux represented the Agoa MPA, France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy);
  • Liza Lima presented the situation of MPAs on four islands of Cape Verde.

Other participants’ presentations

  • Benjamin Haskell of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, presented the NOAA Sister Sanctuary Program and the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Sister Sanctuary Program.
  • Sabine Garnier presented the Caribbean marine mammals preservation network, Caring for Marine Mammals (CARI’MAM) project
  • Guus Schutjes presented the “Yarari” marine mammal and shark sanctuary in the Dutch Caribbean, Netherlands.
  • Amandine Vaslet shared details of the outreach and education work of a local NGO « Mon école, ma baleine» (my school, my whale).
  • Julien Chalifour and Michel Vely presented the Marine Mammals Monitoring Programs of the Reserve Naturelle de St-Martin.

The participants summarised the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of their MPAs. This enabled the identification of activities that could comprise good practice, including whale-watching; certification (and training) for whale-watching operators; efforts to reduce whale entanglements in lobster trap rope; new shipping lanes to reduce risk of ship strikes of whales; research licence; work with schools.

The meeting agreed that the twinning project should focus only on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the entire Atlantic Ocean. They went on to discuss the following topics:

Noise pollution and whale behaviour. More research is needed in this area; Agoa is conducting a study to which it will invite contributions from other participants;

Whale monitoring and database storage. Allied Whale is a collection of information on photo-identified humpback and finback whales in the North Atlantic. The development of a joint protocol and guidelines was discussed to improve photo ID methodology.

Stranding. Several participants emphasised the significance of whale stranding. All agreed to share their protocols/guidelines on this issue.

Socio-economic value of cetacean conservation. There was agreement that a common methodology on defining the socio-economic value of cetacean conservation, including whale watching, would be valuable, as would a transatlantic study on this subject. Participants were invited to share their work related to this.

Whale Watching. This is a valuable economic activity, but not widely developed in some countries. The participants agreed to share their material (guidelines, voluntary guidelines, code of good conduct…), review needs for tools and information, and consider how best to deliver support.

Good practices. Participants agreed to prepare at least one good practice to share with the project partners.

Climate change and marine mammals. Although few impacts have been observed to date, workshop participants discussed whether the project could produce a research recommendation to raise awareness of this topic, including on better monitoring of plankton, which are critical to the survival of humpback whales, as well as most other whale species.

Communication. The importance and need for good communication on the subject was mentioned repeatedly. The twinning project provides an opportunity to share existing communication material, and to develop a transatlantic exchange between schools. Participants will try to identify schools that might take part in this activity.

Next steps

A workshop will be help about the twinning project at the 4th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4), 4-8 September 2017, in Chile.

The second technical workshop has been scheduled to take place in early October.

The participants agreed that future collaboration would be desirable beyond the end (2017) of the existing project. Twinning project coordinator Francis Staub will explore how this might be developed.

Field trip

Thanks to the Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve, a field trip was organized and allowed the workshop participants to discover the reserve and meet with the staff.



Transatlantic MPA project at IMPAC4, Chile

The Transatlantic MPA Partnership project will be attending the International Marine Protected Areas Congress in La Serena – Coquimbo, Chile, on 4-8 September 2017.

Come and meet us at the following events:

Tuesday 05/09, 14:00 @ Salon Bahia 2: Towards a transatlantic partnership of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Wednesday 06/09, 15:30 @ Oceans Pavilion: The Transatlantic MPA Network

Friday 08/09, 10:00 @ Terraza Spa: Twinning and Partnerships, Tools to enhance collaboration between MPA

We are also taking part in several other events. See our flyer for more details.

Dune-side construction and stabilisation planting at Holgate, NJ

Second twinning project gets under way: MPAs and resilience

The second of three twinning projects being launched through the Transatlantic MPA Network has started, with a first meeting of the partners in New Jersey, hosted by the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve from 9-11 May 2017.

The Transatlantic MPA Resilience Twinning Project aims to improve cooperation between marine protected areas in the Atlantic basin to improve their resilience face to rapid changes of their environment due to coastal developments (urbanisation, tourism, infrastructure development, etc), and climate change, and their contribution to build up the resilience of coastal territories.

MPAs participating in the resilience twinning project are the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JC NERR) (New Jersey, USA), Emerald Ark ecological complex (three MPAs in Gabon surrounding capital Libreville), Cozumel Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) and the Abrolhos National Park (Brazil). Also at the workshop were representatives of the Transatlantic MPA network project, IUCN Coastal Ecosystems Group, NOAA (USA) and Rutgers University. The North Littoral Natural Park of Portugal, the project’s fifth partner, was not able to attend the workshop.

The coasts of New Jersey were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In the years since, JC NERR has provided a continuous support to local communities with the aim of reducing coastal risk and recovery of the natural system.

Participants at the workshop discussed various issues of shared interest regarding MPAs and resilience in a rapidly changing environment:

  • Identification of driving forces and typology of responses according to the change observed, with a key role of prospective studies and anticipated approaches in order to guide proactive decision-making.
  • Positioning MPAs and MPA managers as mediators and front-line players in support to local communities for building resilient coastal areas. Research activities and partnerships with actors and stakeholders are crucial to provide relevant information and support to local decision-makers, land use planners and stakeholders in order to prevent future damage. In various cases, the mediation by MPAs has been a key factor in facilitating recovery and management of event consequences.
  • Importance of research activities and a team approach, in particular regarding the sentinel role of MPAs with regard to climate change and the understanding of natural coastal ecosystems’ response to climate change, through the development of tools such as sand dunes and marsh migration models.
  • The need to identify good practices and related demonstration sites to share good practices and approaches, and the need to systematise transferable and simple tools for capacity building.
  • The importance of connecting coastal spatial planning with marine spatial planning. Various examples were discussed.

The specific experiences of each partner were presented and discussed, leading to the identification of two principle themes:

  • MPA contribution to coastal and marine spatial planning based on vulnerability and sensitivity assessment as a tool to improve resilience.
  • Approaches to managing severe pressures and threats associated with coastal and marine economic activities (tourism, fisheries, etc.).

Both the importance of building partnerships and sharing experience were emphasised. The workshop included field visits to Long Beach Island sites and research station, giving the participants a clearer view of JC NERR’s approach and activities, illustrated by different practical examples of coastal land use planning.

A work plan for the twinning project was drafted. The next stage of the project will be the second workshop at the beginning of July 2017.


About the partner MPAs in the Resilience twinning project

Abrolhos National Park (Brazil) hosts the main coral reef in the South Atlantic. It is a special study site for the knowledge and monitoring of the dynamics of the establishment and extinction of terrestrial species of fauna and flora, which characterises the process of colonisation of island environments. The National Park is one of the main marine tourist attractions on the Brazilian coast, with favourable conditions for diving, tourism and environmental education.

The Abrolhos Region still faces great threats, overfishing probably being the most visible. Human actions in more distant areas also affect the region, such as deforestation of slopes in the watershed basins, or the effects of climate change, especially changes in water temperature, which directly affects marine wildlife. The unplanned development of other economic sectors, such as the exploitation of oil and gas, shrimp farming, coastal tourism, or urban growth over natural areas are also increasing threats to the region. The 2015 Bento Rodrigues dam disaster strongly endangered the park’s ecosystems.

Cozumel Biosphere Reserve (Mexico): Cozumel Island is located northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the most eastern territory of Mexico. The island is characterised by a wide variety of environments, species and important ecological processes that provide environmental services. In the northeastern region of Cozumel are reef formations, formed almost exclusively by coralline algae. They are known as “micro-atolls” and are the only ones of their type in the Western Caribbean.

With a high and growing number of visitors (over 4.5 million visitors in 2013), the protected areas of the biosphere reserve face major pressures: rapid development of tourist infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, landing stages) and pressure on land, rapid increase in recreational services and nautical activities, fishing pressure, pressures on farmland, invasive species such as lionfish. All these pressures are seriously impacting the ecosystems of the Reserve. Some of the responses developed for addressing these threats (ie lionfish population reduction) have been successful and could be systematised as good practices.

Emerald Ark ecological complex (Gabon): Libreville, with 800 000 inhabitants and the capital city of Gabon, is located on a peninsula bordered by two estuaries. The coastal ecological complex is characterised by extensive mangrove systems in the estuaries, sandy beaches and rocky grounds on the western coast. Surrounding the wide urban zone of Libreville, the Emerald Ark is a system of three protected areas, including two national parks (Akanda and Pongara) to the east, south and west of the capital. A protected coastal forest is located to the north of the city (Arboretum Raponda Walker).

Ecological values and emblematic species include marine turtles, especially leatherback, manatees, humpback whales and dolphins; coastal migratory bird populations, and terrestrial biodiversity (10 000 plant species, elephants, buffalos, chimpanzees, leopards). Rare species such as elephants, chimpanzees and leopards can be observed within 25 km of the city centre.

The main issues are a very rapid and uncontrolled urban expansion, without spatial planning, which is causing pollution and a rapid increase of coastal risks in the context of climate change. The fast and poorly planned urban growth and its impact on coastal areas and buffer zones is challenging the conservation efforts of Akanda national park.

As buffer zones are partially managed by the National Agency for Protected Areas, this agency strategically undertook a territorial assessment aiming at understanding the causes, driving forces and dynamics of urban expansion. This assessment led to an ambitious programme to support municipalities land use planning efforts in the periphery of the National Parks. The National Parks Agency, as a result of its action, has now been mandated to develop land use planning and environmentally friendly urban planning rules.

Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve – JC NERR – (USA): since its establishment in 1997, the Reserve has managed New Jersey’s coastal environments through science, education, and stewardship. This mission drives the goals, objectives and strategies that address critical coastal management issues in the Mullica River-Great Bay watershed and the New Jersey coastal zone, which were seriously affected by floods during the Sandy hurricane event in 2012. JC NERR management plan for 2015-2019 builds upon past successes and provides a vision for managing future challenges and addressing priority concerns. It demonstrates a commitment to the NERR system and outlines actions to protect valuable natural resources in the face of climate change and emerging ecological threats.

To achieve their goals, programmes at the JC NERR focus on three key management issues:

  • Improve resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities to anthropogenic and natural drivers of environmental change;
  • Monitor response of the ecosystem to habitat change and alteration;
  • Develop processes governing connectivity of habitats and communities from watershed to ocean.

The action framework developed by JC NERR is characterised by the integration of various scientific and technical resources mobilised through diverse partnerships. JC NERR in actively involved in municipal planning evaluation process with about 40 New Jersey coastal municipalities.

Hand reaching across ocean

Three twinning projects confirmed; begin activities

The EU-funded Transatlantic MPA Network project has started work on three twinning projects to build partnerships between managers of marine protected areas (MPA) around the Atlantic.

The twinning projects aim to build partnerships across the Atlantic and contribute to better MPA management effectiveness for improved conservation of marine ecosystems. The projects were designed to address common challenges facing MPA managers.

With partners from North and South America, Africa and Europe, the twinning projects are establishing genuine transatlantic partnerships around the Atlantic rim.

The three twinning projects are as follows:

  • Cooperation and common strategy between MPA networks of managers in the Atlantic region (‘Networks twinning’);
  • MPAs and coastal resilience, coping with rapid changes (‘Resilience twinning’);
  • Marine mammals’ protection, a way to enhance transatlantic cooperation between MPAs (‘Marine mammals twinning’)

Networks twinning

The Networks twinning project will improve cooperation between networks of MPA managers in the Atlantic region. Partners include the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Managers Network and Forum (CaMPAM), Mediterranean Network of Marine Protected Areas Managers (MedPAN), Regional Network of Marine Protected Areas in West Africa (RAMPAO), and North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAM), plus two European institutions working with national networks in France and Spain: the Agence française pour la biodiversité (AFB) and Fundación Biodiversidad. Other regional and national networks, as well as MPAs that are not part of any network, will be invited to participate.

The twinning project will undertake the following activities:

  • Identify key actions that networks are doing to support effective management of MPAs;
  • Showcase the value of working at a transatlantic scale, raising the profile of what they do, and contribute to mobilising resources for future networking;
  • Draft and develop a joint action plan and/or strategy;
  • Connect with MPAs that are not yet linked to any existing network; and
  • Reinforce national MPA networks and promote new regional MPA networks.

Resilience twinning

The Resilience twinning project aims to develop cooperation between marine protected areas on the Atlantic rim to boost resilience to coastal changes such as rapid population densification and climate impacts.

Partners in the project include five MPAs: Abrolhos National Park (Brazil), Emerald Ark ecological complex (Gabon), Cozumel Biosphere Reserve (Mexico), Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (USA) and the Northern Littoral Natural Park (Portugal, part of the a Natura 2000 network site).

This project will examine strategies and approaches developed by the MPAs to respond to changes to their environment due to the growing pressure on resources and assets in coastal zones and to climate change, as well as the role of MPAs in reinforcing the resilience of coastal territories and areas.

It will consider issues to support future management planning, such as:

  • How MPAs can contribute to building resilient coastal territories;
  • Strategies that can be applied to anticipate changes and adapt proactively to cope with these changes;
  • How pressures due to the multiplication of coastal defences and coastal hardening can be managed to protect natural coastal ecosystems; and
  • Which research approaches can be developed to contribute more efficiently to the knowledge on climate change effects.

Marine mammals twinning

The marine mammals twinning project aims to enhance protection and knowledge of whales in the Atlantic Ocean, with twinning partner organisations from the French Caribbean (Agoa, an MPA devoted to marine mammal conservation), Bermuda (Marine Mammal Sanctuary) and the Azores (Azores Marine Park).

An existing whale protection programme in North America and the Caribbean contributes to improving management of this endangered species, from feeding and nursery grounds in the US Gulf of Maine to breeding and calving areas in the Caribbean. However, there is currently no communication with other areas of whales’ Atlantic range: notably a breeding area near Cape Verde and feeding grounds stretching to the north of Iceland and Norway.

The twinning project will add value by promoting collaboration across this wider area – on research, monitoring and outreach programmes – with the aim to contribute to better protection for whales throughout the Atlantic.

Activities may include:

  • Exchange of technical information, scientific data and practical experiences about marine mammals and their respective habitats;
  • Development of methodologies for whale protection within MPAs;
  • Development, coordination, and evaluation of research and monitoring programs and campaigns, outreach and education programs, enforcement methodology, performance assessments, and community involvement mechanism for marine mammals research and marine protected areas; and
  • Support and facilitation for ongoing – and future – agreements and cooperation.
Networks twinning participants

First twinning project gets under way: MPA networks

The first of three twinning projects being set up through the Transatlantic MPA network has started work, with a first meeting of participants in Monaco in early April.

The Transatlantic MPA Networks Twinning Project aims to improve cooperation between networks of marine protected areas in the Atlantic basin, with the objective of strengthening the effective management of MPAs and improving conservation results.

MPA networks provide a platform for managers of marine protected areas to cooperate and share knowledge. The networks thus act as a catalyst and facilitator for the development of well-managed ecological networks in a given region.

Regional MPA networks participating in the twinning project are the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Managers Network and Forum (CaMPAM), Mediterranean Network of Marine Protected Areas Managers (MedPAN), Regional Network of Marine Protected Areas in West Africa (RAMPAO), and North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAM). Two national institutions, the French Agency for Biodiversity and the Biodiversity Foundation from Spain, which work with MPA networks on behalf of their governments, also joined the meeting.

“By improving cooperation between networks of MPAs, the twinning project will enable our MPA managers to share day-to-day experiences with MPA managers from far and wide, to debate and discuss issues, gain new technical skills and understand that conservation is a global issue and needs to be to be tackled in global way,” said Marie-Suzanna TRAORÉ, General Secretary of RAMPAO. “The twinning project is definitely a way to keep this momentum going within the RAMPAO region.”

The twinning project will undertake the following activities:

  • Identify the key actions that networks are doing to support the effective management of MPAs;
  • Showcase the value of working at a Transatlantic scale, raising the profile of what they do, and contribute towards resource mobilisation for future networking;
  • Draft and develop a joint action plan and/or strategy by the participating networks;
  • Connect with MPAs that are not yet linked to any existing network; and
  • Reinforce national MPA networks and promote new regional MPA networks

Participants at the first meeting discussed issues of common interest to the regional MPA networks, including:

  • MPA databases: how to cooperate to improve data collection and sharing, monitoring and awareness-raising;
  • Shared tools: to facilitate information exchange, expert advice and compare management practice;
  • Capacity-building: options for staff exchanges, training and study visits, and pooling of experts;
  • Standardised monitoring to inform management: the need to translate or package global and regional data (possibly by thematic area) to make it useful for management proposals on the ground;
  • Sharing guidance on climate change: how networks can advise MPA managers and planners on best practice;
  • The development of a fundraising strategy to enable continued cooperation between Atlantic MPA networks after 2017;
  • Advocacy: how networks can contribute to MPA management effectiveness through their input to international conferences (IMPAC4, UN Conference on SDG 14, EU ‘Our Ocean’ conference, and UNFCCC’s COP 23).

The twinning project’s main workshop is planned for July.



How do MPA networks facilitate capacity building for MPA managers? Two of the twinning project partners share details of their activities:

Mediterranean Network of Marine Protected Areas Managers (MedPAN)

MedPAN organises yearly thematic workshops, exchange visits and regional trainings, and produces operational tools to capitalize on and share lessons learnt. A permanent and operational mechanism for MPA training will soon be developed.

MedPAN provides direct support to MPA managers through calls for small projects (more than 30 small projects supported since 2011).

MedPAN reinforces sharing and exchanges with updated on current MPA management achievements and success stories through its website and e-newsletter.

Strong partnerships with scientists are developed to reinforce science-based management of MPAs including knowledge on socio-economic benefits of MPAs.


Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Managers Network and Forum (CaMPAM)

CaMPAM runs a ‘Training of trainers’ programme on MPA management that includes an annual regional course, alternating English and Spanish, plus local follow-up training activities (12 editions since 1999).

Its web communication tool, CaMPAM List, disseminates almost daily information (news, reports, publications, events, job opportunities, calls for proposals, best practices, etc.) with its 1 000 or so members, and is used by individuals and institutions to reach out to the Caribbean marine conservation science and management community.

The CaMPAM grant programme provides technical assistance for small to mid-size projects including learning exchanges of MPA managers, fishers and other stakeholders; and financial support to improve their institutions.

CaMPAM coordinates a regional MPA database and also represents the region’s MPA managers at international conferences.