Integration of marine mammals into management plans for MPA

Workshop outlined roadmap for guidelines

The first workshop of the twinning project “Marine mammals’ protection, a way to enhance Transatlantic cooperation between MPAs” was held on 4-6 February 2019, in La Martinique and was hosted by the DEAL Martinique. The meeting was organized in partnership with the CARiMAM project and the French Biodiversity Agency.

Under the new phase of the Transatlantic MPA project the main objective of the twinning is to develop “guidelines” on how to integrate marine mammals into management plans (for MPA). The aim of the first workshop was to develop the roadmap and timeframe for the development of the guidelines. In addition, the participants explored how the twinning can contribute to the sessions to be held at the 5th International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas – “Towards building a global networking mechanism of MPA managers & practitioners: Promoting ecological solidarity” and “Incorporating marine mammal conservation needs in MPA management plans”.

The Resilience Twinning project, its main findings and key messages were also presented during the workshop.

The meeting gathered representatives from CARiMAM, the National Directorate of Environment of Cape Verde, Reserve Naturelle de St-Martin / Agoa sanctuary, University of Iceland, Marine Park of the Azores, “Yarari” marine mammal and shark sanctuary, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Megaptera.


Integration of resilience issues into the MPAs management plans

Guidelines shaped during a workshop 

This first workshop of the extension phase of the Resilience Twinning project (Transatlantic MPA Network – TMP) was held in Florianopolis (Brazil) from 15 to 17 November 2018 at the ICMBio Carijos ecological station.

The objective of the workshop was to develop the roadmap, timeframe, and methodology for the preparation of guidelines to integrate resilience issues into MPAs management plans and management effectiveness evaluation frameworks.

The guidelines will address not only resilience of MPAs but also the contribution of MPAs to the resilience of surrounding coastal territories. The guidelines will address the evaluation of management effectiveness, but also the development of MPA management plans, as a checklist to improve resilience, providing a baseline for future evaluations of management effectiveness.

During the sessions a list of criteria and indicators was established to be taken into consideration to integrate resilience into management plans and management evaluation frameworks.

The workshop gathered the EU experts, partners of MPAs and Coastal Resilience twinning project. The event was hosted by the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio). The animation of the workshop included, aside from the coordination team, the active involvement of the core partners of the TMP Resilience Twinning Project.


Transatlantic partnership of MPAs enriched during a workshop

This first workshop of the MPA Networks twinning project was held in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain from 12 to 16 November 2018.

Representatives from the project partners CaMPAM, NAMPAN, MedPAN, Fundación Biodiversidad and French Biodiversity Agency attended and were actively involved in a number of sessions within the MedPAN General Assembly and Annual Workshop of Exchange of Experience.

A new MedPAN strategy was approved during the General Assembly including a big component of cooperation with other regional networks of MPA managers, as well as providing more support to the national networks of MPAs in the Mediterranean for the next five years. It also links the Transatlantic partnership with other MPA networks with the advocacy role of MedPAN in promoting effective management of MPAs and with fundraising.  It was pointed out that before the project there was no mechanism for exchange among the regional of MPA managers facing the Atlantic.

The Joint opening of the Annual Workshop and the Marine Biogeographic seminar of Natura 2000 of the European Commission provided a great framework for the transatlantic partnership exchanges, going from the EU policy level to the actions on the ground in a specific biogeographic region, implemented by MPA managers.

The main issue discussed during the twinning workshop was the implementation of the MPA Networks Common Strategy, elaborated during the first phase of the project; especial focus was given to the sustainable financing of MPA Networks of Managers.

Another topic discussed during the workshop was related to the effective management of small scale fisheries cooperation in the framework of the Common Strategy.

The participants visited the Cabrera National Park, located in the Island of Cabrera, to learn about how is the Small Scale Fisheries activity was integrated.

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Transatlantic MPA project presented at a series of international events

The Coordinator of the Transatlantic MPA Project, Ms. Maria Purificació Canals Ventín, participated in series of international events linked to the three twinning projects – MPA Networks, Coastal Resilience and Marine Mammal’s protection.

A number of items of importance for the Transatlantic MPA Project were discussed during the 22nd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA22), held in Montreal, Canada, from 2 to 7 July 2018. Among them were the updated scientific assessment of progress towards selected Aichi biodiversity targets and protected areas and other measures for enhanced conservation and management. Other topics presented and linked to the project were the marine and coastal biodiversity and the Second Work Programme of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Subsidiary Body considered a set of information documents to prepare recommendations for Conference of the Parties at its fourteenth meeting in November 2018.

During the discussions around the protected areas, a statement was presented taking advantage of the accreditation of MedPAN at the Convention on Biological Diversity. It underlined the value of networking between MPA managers and the experience in the context of the Transatlantic MPA Project as an effective way to contribute to the achievement of qualitative aspects of Aichi Target 11.

Prior to the official opening Ms. Purificació Canals participated in the Pre-SBSTTA22 Workshop on the outcomes of the sixth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The aim of the meeting was to consider the findings of the IPBES assessments to enable their effective use at the national and regional levels as well as to inform discussions at SBSTTA22 and SBI 2.

The project was also presented at the High Seas International Conference in Boulogne sur Mer, France, on 27-28 June 2018.  The main goal of the meeting was to raise public awareness and mobilise civil society on the challenges of the High Seas. The Transatlantic MPA Project was invited to present its experience of cooperation across the Atlantic space, together with other stakeholders that provided their insight about the High Seas governance, the Blue Society, and the legal challenges regarding the conservation and the sustainable management of marine resources.

All the events were an opportunity to informally exchange with participants from different countries and institutions about the Transatlantic MPA project and its future development.


The Transatlantic MPA Partnership: fostering twinning relationships across the Atlantic Ocean

This article is reproduced, with kind permission, from MPA news Vol. 19, No. 4, February 2018 (editor: John Davis).

To promote cooperation among managers of MPAs in countries and territories surrounding the Atlantic Ocean, the
European Union set up the Transatlantic MPA Partnership in 2016. Centered on a new concept of Atlanticism that
includes Africa and South America as well as Europe and North America, the Partnership is designed in particular to
foster twinning arrangements between individual sites, and between regional MPA networks. The Partnership will complete its initial two-year operation in March 2018 and awaits official word now on EU funding for a follow-on project.

The Partnership has focused so far on three types of twinning arrangements: networks twinning to improve cooperation between networks of MPA managers; resilience twinning to boost resilience to coastal changes; and marine mammals protection twinning to promote collaboration among marine mammal MPAs in the Atlantic.
Puri Canals is Team Leader for the Transatlantic MPA Partnership. She is also President of MedPAN, the network
of Mediterranean MPA managers.

MPA News: The Transatlantic MPA Partnership has been active for a relatively short time. Can you point to some of the challenges you’ve faced so far?

Puri Canals: There have been a few challenges in running the Partnership. These have included:

  • The short timescale for setting up three twinning partnerships across the Atlantic – from defining each
    twinning theme, to holding two workshops per twinning, to enabling concrete results – all in two years.
  • Uncertainty over what happens next after the current two-year project is done – in other words, the project’s
    future direction, development, and funding.
  • The lack of adequate data available on the Atlantic MPA system and the ocean itself. The project compiled a
    scoping study with a base map to address this shortfall, which provides an overview of the Atlantic space for
    marine and coastal protected areas. This is somewhat constrained by the data available (some of it conflicting)
    and a limited response to an e-mail survey sent to national and MPA authorities during 2016.
  • Inevitably – but not surprisingly – the distances involved in transatlantic cooperation were always going to be
    a major obstacle, as were the different linguistic and organizational backgrounds, levels of MPA managers’
    knowledge, capacity, and funding.

Have you seen successes yet?

Canals: Strong relationships have already developed over a short time between managers from very different regions and socio-economic contexts. They have discovered how much they have in common and can learn from each other. There are already several tangible and impactful results, with more projects in the pipeline:

  • Cape Verde has begun drafting a marine mammal conservation plan, working with other Portuguese-speaking
    partners (Azores and Brazil).
  • Bermuda is also drawing on the experience of other partners for the preparation of its whale management plan.
  • Iceland is planning the designation of MPAs following its hosting of a workshop on marine mammal twinning in October 2017.
  • Cape Verde and Saint Martin (the latter in the French Antilles, Caribbean) intend to work together on a school
    twinning project, on the model of a whale conservation project run by the Agoa Sanctuary in Saint Martin with
    local schools.
  • Following the severe impacts of Hurricane Irma in 2017 on Saint Martin, which is a partner in the marine mammal twinning via its Agoa Sanctuary, there is interest in bringing that island into the resilience twinning as well and hosting a future event there.
  • There is interest in further cooperation between Brazil and Gabon to develop a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary
  • The resilience twinning partners of Gabon and the US state of New Jersey are preparing to work together to develop strategies for inshore waters.
  • RAPAC – the Central Africa protected areas network, which has been largely terrestrial up to now – is drawing on the experience of regional networks in the Partnership to develop its own MPA network.
  • And perhaps most significantly, there has been a boost to advocacy efforts by speaking with one voice. This has included a joint presentation at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, including a statement in the closing plenary, and the Call for Joint Action among regional MPA networks that was launched at the International MPA Congress last year in Chile.

What lessons have been learned?

Canals: At the final conference for the two-year project this past January, there were several thoughtful remarks
by participants. One was from Ben Haskell, who manages Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in the northeastern US, a partner in the marine mammals twinning [described below in case D]. Whether this is technically a lesson or not, he had an important message: “As an MPA manager,” he said, “it’s nice to know I’m not alone out there in the world, that there are commonalities across the Atlantic and that we’re all working together. It’s also nice to see other people developing solutions we didn’t think of. This is a valuable aspect of this partnership.”

For more information:
Puri Canals. Email:

MPA News website:


New report: Assessing Europe’s Marine Protected Area networks – Proposed methodologies and scenarios

By drawing on existing approaches put forward by the Regional Sea Conventions of relevance to European seas, this report presents a proposed methodological framework for the assessment of MPA networks in a European context to help inform the role that MPAs (and MPA networks) play in the delivery of EU-level reporting requirements.

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Project featured in latest Natura 2000 newsletter

A short article about this project’s launch workshop appears in the latest edition of the European Commission’s Natura 2000 newsletter.



Recommendations from 2nd International Conference on Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning

In March, UNESCO and the European Commission hosted an international conference on marine spatial planning, a process that seeks to regulate human activities in the waters bordering coastal areas so as to preserve marine ecosystems, avoid conflicts between sectors of commercial and industrial activity, and promote international cooperation. The conference concluded with the adoption of a joint roadmap to accelerate Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) processes worldwide, which identifies priority areas for EU action.

For more information, see the event website, view presentations.



© Jürgen Freund / WWF

WWF publishes assessment of Portuguese MPAs

A new report published by WWF, “MPA X-ray – a diagnosis of Portuguese MPAs”, looks at the type of protection, distribution and area of marine protected areas in Portugal as well as their governance model. It focuses on national, regional and local MPAs (only nationally designated) and clarifies relevant and urgent questions about the MPAs. It also encourages the Portuguese Government and the institutions responsible for the implementation of more efficient MPAs to ensure the ocean’s sustainability. The report has been supported by the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Oceanário de Lisboa. The full report in Portuguese is accessible via this webpage; while an executive summary in English is available here.

Science of MPAs report; focus on Mediterranean

A report about the science of marine protected areas with a focus on the Mediterranean has been published by the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO, USA) and the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (UNS, France). The science shows that fully protected, well-designed, well-managed, and well-enforced MPAs can support the economy and culture of the Mediterranean region and protect important marine resources.

View the report