Site Selection for MPA Management Capacity Training
In initiating the MPA Management Capacity Training pilot project, NOAA evaluated nine potential regional sites that had been recommended by NOAA, other agencies and/or the NGO community. All nine sites have either implemented MPAs or are going through the designation process. All are in need of management capacity building to improve management effectiveness. The nine sites were:
- The Caribbean (UNEP Project)
- Western Samoa (IUCN)
- Eastern Tropical Pacific (Conservation International)
- Gabon, West Africa (National Park Service, Smithsonian)
- Madgascar (Conservation International
- Raja Ampat, Conservation International
- Central Sulawesi (Conservation International)
- Vietnam (NOAA)
- South China (NOAA)
In evaluating each of these sites, maps fact sheets were assembled to address the following questions:
- Who is taking the lead on MPAs in this country or region?
- How many MPAs are already implemented?
- How many proposed MPAs?
- How many MPAs are there in the region?
- What are the major resource management issues?
- What are the economic drivers?
- What is the social/cultural setting?
- Who has management authority over the MPAs?
- Who has jurisdictional authority over MPAs?
- Has a needs assessment been conducted for the MPA?
- Who might the potential training partners be?
- Who would host a training program?
- What are some of the training logistics that might be a hurdle to conducting the training in this country (cost, infrastructure, venues, accessibility)?
Once the fact sheets for each site were reviewed and evaluated, seven criteria were applied to each potential pilot site to determine the feasibility and level of priority as a pilot site for training. The seven criteria are:
- There is a policy commitment by the MPAs’ host country to expand management for existing sites, expand the network of MPAs or establish new MPAs
- There is a management structure in place for existing MPAs or proposed new sites
- The host country has sufficient resources to effectively manage MPAs
- There is an institutional presence that would provide logistical support for
the training program and oversight for the follow-up program
- There is an appropriate number of sufficiently skilled individuals to be
trained as trainers
- There is a definable “regional” system of MPAs (scale may vary significantly)
- There is a significant urgency or immediate need for training
The South China Sea region (China, Vietnam and Cambodia) 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.
The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia and Ecuador) was selected as the second pilot site based on a strong interest from Conservation International and UNESCO to form a partnership with NOAA. The training will be focused on ensuring that all five seascape MPAs have developed management capacity that meets the management requirements for nomination as a cluster or transboundary marine World Heritage site.
Although these two sites were selected for the pilot training, the remaining seven sites, as well as other sites, may be considered for future MPA Management Capacity Training projects. NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program will evaluate the success of the pilot to determine the future of the program.