TAMPAN | Towards a transatlantic partnership of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

This initiative has the objective to promote broader transatlantic partnerships, centred on a new comprehensive concept of Atlanticism that includes Africa and South America as well as Europe and North America. The focus is on an environmental area on which we reached a political consensus on both sides of the Atlantic on the opportunity to provide concrete results and to open the door for further enhanced partnership.

As well as environmental protection, this theme also covers ‘blue growth’ and scientific cooperation, which can inform and support EU policy objectives and also foster international relations.

The European Union has set up this initiative to promote cooperation between managers of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in countries and territories around the Atlantic Ocean, bringing both sides of the Atlantic together in twinning projects. It is designed to stimulate exchange and the sharing of best practice to improve the effective management of MPAs in coastal and offshore areas of the Atlantic.

The European Union is committed to furthering this broader approach to transatlantic dialogue, and has selected MPAs as a focus to pilot this new policy initiative. The project will also contribute to EU commitments to tackle global biodiversity loss, support climate change adaptation, and respond to EU internal policies on the environment, regional cooperation and the maritime dimension.

Why MPAs?

The EU and its fellow parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity have committed to protect 10% of their marine and coastal areas through the effective management of Marine Protected Areas by 2020 (Aichi Target 11 within the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020), an objective endorsed by the Regional Seas Convention.

MPAs are an important tool to manage and enhance marine ecosystems while overseeing sustainable human activities compatible with conservation objectives. However, while their number has increased rapidly around the world in recent years, many designated MPAs lack clear conservation objectives and effective management measures. The project will seek to address this situation through a variety of activities to improve the management of MPAs in the Atlantic area.

Studies, twinning projects and communication

Starting work in early 2016, the project team have begun reviewing existing data and scientific literature concerning the several thousand existing protected areas in 64 countries and territories along the Atlantic coast and offshore (including terrestrial protected areas located on the coast).

Once this overview of the ecological and governance characteristics of Atlantic MPAs is completed, they will conduct an online survey of MPA managers. Intended to identify MPA managers’ needs and priorities, it will focus on issues including political commitment to the MPA from local and national authorities, management plans, business plans and sustainable financing strategies, enforcement, governance frameworks and communication tools and strategies. It will also consider efforts to setup regional strategies.

The results will feed into a scoping study that will offer a global picture of marine conservation practices in the Atlantic, and enable a shared representation of the Atlantic MPA network to stakeholders and partners. A kick-off workshop will be organised in Brussels in autumn 2016 to present the project and progress during its first phase to stakeholders.

In a second stage, the project will select MPAs (or networks of MPAs) to participate in three transatlantic twinning projects, representing each of the four Atlantic rim continents, to share best practice and lessons from innovative management approaches. A technical workshop will be organised for each of the twinning projects, which will envisage realistic actions and results, and lay the foundations for a partnership that, it is hoped, may endure beyond the life of this initiative.

A new online platform will be set up to provide an entry-point to Atlantic MPA cooperation, and support the project’s learning and cooperation goals. A closing conference and communication materials including video will report on the project’s results and outputs.

Who, where and when?

This project is financed by the European Union and implemented by B&S Europe, AGRER and TYPSA. It includes marine conservation experts working in close collaboration with the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General and Service for Foreign Policy Instruments.