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MPA 101 | Sustainable Fishing | Sustainable Tourism
Management Plan Development | Marine Spatial Planning
Climate Change Adaptation | Stakeholder Engagement
Sustainable Financing | Network-Wide Monitoring
Network-Wide Outreach
Needs Assessments and Capacity Building Program Design

The curricula are one of the primary components of the capacity building program, and one of the keys to its success.


This introductory course targets practitioners from new marine protected areas, government officials, and/or communities requiring a basic understanding of the purpose, function and responsibility of an effectively managed site. The MPA-101 training opens by building an understanding of marine and coastal ecosystems, and the need for taking an ecosystem-based management approach to meet both the conservation and socioeconomic objectives of protected areas. The training then moves towards covering a wide range of topical areas pertaining to site management such as: research and monitoring, education and outreach, compliance and enforcement, impacts from fisheries, impacts from tourism, and impacts from climate change.


Workshop participants visit a Tunisian fishing vessel. (Credit: NOAA)
Most often identified as one of the top two resource management issues facing protected area managers, this training course on planning for sustainable fisheries focuses primarily on understanding artisanal fisheries, recreational (sport) fisheries, industrial fisheries (when appropriate), and mariculture, and their impacts on living marine resources, ecosystems, habitats, and species of concern. The training looks at the history of fishing from open access to limited access, and builds an understanding of the economics of fishing and the relationship between effort and fish population dynamics. Once the basics are covered, the management tool chest is opened to review approaches to single species management; address impacts to habitats, species of concern, and by-catch from different gear types; examine temporal and spatial management controls; and examine innovative approaches such as eco-labling programs (certification) and management of large marine ecosystems.


The second of the top two resource management issues facing protected area managers worldwide are the impacts from tourism. After an initial evaluation by each site on the role that tourism may or may not play in helping them meet their conservation and socioeconomic management objectives, the training is then focused on managing visitor use and associated impacts from tourism infrastructure development, services, and support systems. The visitor use model is based on both behavior modification through education and outreach, and the use of best management practices. Behavioral controls are exercised through the use of access restrictions and the controlling of numbers and impacts by applying models such as carrying capacity and levels of acceptable change. Infrastructure impacts are addressed through the use of set backs, use of natural vegetation, waste management systems, and best management practices for hotels, cruise ships, and dive boats.


This training focuses on taking planning teams through the process steps for developing strategic management plans for protected areas. The process model is complementary to most other commonly used planning models, yet it is broken down into a systematic step-by-step stakeholder-based approach, making it easy for a mixed planning team to effectively work through the process. The process is based on six planning stages:

  1. Front end assessment (establishing authority, site characterization);
  2. Pre-planning (building a timeline, identifying needed resources and identifying a planning team);
  3. Planning process (establishing goals and objectives, identifying target resources, conducting an impact analysis, understanding root causes);
  4. Building the plan (identifying strategies, evaluating strategies, prioritizing strategies);
  5. Evaluating management effectiveness (identifying indicators, monitoring, evaluation, adaptive management); and
  6. Implementation (maintaining political and stakeholder support, building work plans, integrating into other planning processes).


Even in protected areas, the demand for ocean and coastal space is rapidly increasing and becoming a growing challenge for managers. The marine spatial planning (MSP) process model is designed to mesh with the management plan model, adding a spatial/temporal component to the management model and starting with many of the same process steps of building management objectives, identifying target resources for protection, and mapping human use activities and their impacts on target resources. Existing human uses, human uses adjacent to the site, and projected future uses are evaluated in terms of their three-dimensional impacts (above the sea surface, sea surface, water column, and seabed). These human uses are also analyzed for their spatial/temporal compatibility with one another, and their compatibility with the site's management objectives. A suite of management responses, along with a spatial/temporal plan, including mapped boundaries and regulations, are developed during the training.


Workshop participants during a session in Indonesia. (Credit: NOAA)
Designed to complement the other training courses on planning processes, the climate change adaptation model focuses on climate change impacts to the natural environment, human communities, and infrastructure. Building off the management planning model, target resources are identified, then non-climate stressors (human use activities) are analyzed. Climate stressors such as sea level rise, sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, precipitation changes, and storm surges are examined to evaluate the sensitivity and exposure of each target resource, and ultimately identify areas of greatest vulnerability. Through both hard and soft adaptation approaches, areas of vulnerability are addressed.


Increasingly, protected area managers are realizing the benefits and challenges of working with stakeholders; however, in order to do this effectively, targeted skills and knowledge are required. The training walks the participants through a series of multi-stakeholder engagement models - from site advisory councils to fisheries co-management and community-based management models. Process steps for starting to engage stakeholders, building a framework, establishing legal and management authority, defining decision-making approaches and protocols, and the skills to facilitate each step of the process are included in the training.


Financial arrangements for protected areas vary, yet even with the most seemingly stable support systems, it is rare to find a protected area that is "fully" funded. This training begins with basic business planning model, identifying categories of funding needs, from the fundamentals needed to maintain the site's infrastructure to what might be lower funding priorities for new program development. The funding categories are balanced against reliable sources of income (usually from government), versus required income to meet the management needs of an effectively managed protected area. A range of income generation schemes are examined including entry fees, permit fees, enforcement fines, fundraisers, trust funds, and grants. Included in the training is a multi-day session on grant writing.

Brown pelicans off the Ecuadorian coast. (Credit: NOAA)

Protected area networks are often defined and geographically delineated by their biophysical connectivity. This workshop format is designed to help networks move towards becoming "operational" (functioning as a network) by developing network-wide monitoring programs. The focus is on identifying common network-wide questions; developing coordinated monitoring programs; establishing data easily accessible data sharing systems; and reporting information (communicating results) through a common format, at the network level.


A companion workshop to Designing Network-wide Monitoring Programs, this training focuses on translating science into education. This training is built around developing a network approach to identifying common target audiences, common messaging, and complementary methods for educating and reaching out to a range of audiences.


This workshop format serves a dual purpose: 1) to work with protected area practitioners from across a network of sites to learn how to design a multi-year learning program and 2) to actually design a multi-year capacity building program that meets the needs of a specific protected area network. The program:

  • Develops and distributes a needs assessment survey to practitioners throughout the protected area network;
  • Prioritizes capacity building needs resulting from the survey;
  • Identifies and characterizes target audiences;
  • Sets learning and capacity building objectives, outcomes and outputs; and
  • Develops communication and capacity building program evaluation teams.

The output from the workshop is a detailed five-year plan for capacity building to improve management effectiveness of a network of protected areas.

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