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Sanctuaries Go To Barcelona!

Barcelona Spain
Barcelona city view. (Photo: Elizabeth Moore/NOAA ONMS)
For one week earlier this month, thousands of conservation professionals, researchers, interest groups and students met in Barcelona, Spain, at the World Conservation Congress, an event that is the largest of its kind in the world. Four staff members from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, along with other NOAA colleagues, met to share experiences and learn from those of international colleagues, maintain ties to current partners, and lay the foundation for future partnerships and projects.

Sylvia Earle presenting "What Will You Do?"
Sylvia Earle presenting the film "What Will You Do?" (Photo: Elizabeth Moore/NOAA ONMS)
The National Marine Sanctuary System made an excellent showing in the marine protected area (MPA) community at the event, which takes place every four years. Anne Walton, project manager for the sanctuary system’s MPA management capacity training program, helped lead a pre-congress workshop that gathered 15 MPA management staff from 11 countries to focus on starting case studies in support of a new guidebook called “How is Your MPA Managed?” Matt Stout, communications director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, oversaw the only fully NOAA exhibit at the congress, which garnered tremendous attention and new contacts for the sanctuary system. Kimo Carvalho of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument presented a session entitled “When Contemporary Science and Indigenous Knowledge Collide — Two Ways of Knowing to Survive and Thrive as Climate Changes,” which focused on the major impacts of climate change affecting Pacific Islands throughout Oceania, and how indigenous communities are adapting to these changes. Elizabeth Moore, director of the new Sanctuaries International Program, led efforts to reaffirm a number of ongoing international partnerships and projects and laid the groundwork for several new ones, including working with several European nations on their MPA programs.

Sanctuary booth
The booth for NOAA's Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries. (Photo: Elizabeth Moore/NOAA ONMS)
The congress also saw the culmination of a number of important international efforts to which sanctuary staff made key contributions. These included the launch of the new MPA layer in Google Earth (link?) that includes extensive information about all 14 sites in the sanctuary system, and the launch of a new global MPA portal called Protect Planet Ocean that also includes a great deal of sanctuary information, tools and projects. The World Commission on Marine Protected Areas also launched its new plan of action (pdf), which was beautifully designed with much assistance from sanctuary staff. Finally, a “What Will You Do?” video, prepared by Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partner Bob Talbot Productions, was debuted at an MPA reception to great acclaim.

The World Conservation Congress represents one in a series of important international conferences highlighting MPAs. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will have major roles in planning and leading two upcoming meetings: the first annual International Marine Mammal Protected Area Conference, to be held in Hawaii in March 2009, and the second International Marine Protected Area Congress, to be held as part of the International Marine Conservation Congress in May 2009, just outside of Washington, D.C. Stay tuned for more info!

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