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South China Sea Project Overview

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NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, International Program Office, and Coastal Services Center have partnered with IUCN-Vietnam, the Vietnam Ministry of Fisheries, Conservation International, WWF, Danida and the U.S. Embassy to provide management capacity training in support of developing a marine protected area (MPA) network in the South China Sea region.

The seven NGO and government partners entered into an informal agreement to cooperate and collaborate on different phases of development of MPAs in Vietnam and the region. Through this partnership we are actively seeking to share experiences with colleagues within the region, to help build international marine and coastal stewardship, and improve our own ability to protect and manage marine resources. The first step in this direction was to collaborate on the MPA Management Capacity Training Program, a pilot project to build support and expertise for effective management of MPAs within the region, including Vietnam, China and Cambodia, while working towards building a global system of MPAs and meeting the 2012 goals of the Durban Accord.

In December 2005, thirty -five marine protected area practitioners from China, Vietnam and Cambodia gathered in Nha Trang, Vietnam for the first MPA Management Capacity Building pilot project. The South China Sea region was selected from nine regional candidate sites for the first pilot project due to the strong existing partnership between NOAA, IUCN and the Ministry of Fisheries. Nha Trang was selected as the host city as it is the site of the first fully implemented MPA in a network of fifteen MPAs in Vietnam.

An international team of 11 trainers from Australia, Philippines Vietnam and the United States, conducted 14 days of management capacity training for the 35 participants; and four additional days of mentorship training for eight representatives that were selected by their respective  MPAs in China, Vietnam and Cambodia for showing exceptional leadership potential. National Marine Sanctuary staff tailored the curriculum to the needs of the region, covering eight topical areas during the two weeks of training including subjects such as zonal management, community-based management and management planning. The training is designed to include a year-long follow-up program whereby support will be provided by the partnership to ensure the implementation of lessons learned and advanced training needs are met.

In addition to the MPA Management Capacity Building Training , there was an opportunity for outstanding MPA staff to participate in a Mentorship Training program. During this four day training, held prior to the MPA Management Capacity Building Training, a smaller group of eight individuals were trained in both facilitation skills and in-depth knowledge about MPA management. These mentors then served as the team lead for their small groups during the MPA Management Capacity Building Training, providing the mentors with an opportunity to exercise their newly learned skills and knowledge. The mentors will continue to work with their team after the training, providing support and guidance in implementing lessons learned in the field.

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