Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) managers in the Caribbean have begun to strengthen their informal networks and share initiatives and best practices as a result of undergoing capacity building in part funded by the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme.
As BIOPAMA gears up to launch the Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway, a resource hub that will support the collection, management, analysis and application of data and information relevant to protecting the biodiversity of the Caribbean, it has already laid the foundation for regional MPAs managers to begin sharing information for better decision-making through participating in the 11th edition of the Training of Trainers on MPA Management workshop, hosted at the Fisheries Division in St. George’s, Grenada, in February 2015.
“My expectations were to gain enough information from the course to be able to embark on the writing of a management plan for the Lucayan National Park in Grand Bahama. I now feel that I am much closer to being able to do that. Along with the training, I have met valuable contacts whom I plan to use as resources going forward,” commented participant Ellsworth Weir of The Bahamas.
“Looking at the list of participants/representatives of each country, I immediately expected a diverse set of experiences with respect to all facets of MPA management and operations,” said Carlos Gilkes of Barbados. “While I was aware of some of the territories, like Belize, and had a basic understanding of St. Lucia, based on the diversity in the other territories, I can definitely say my expectations were met.”
The workshop, which included modules on biophysical characteristics of coastal ecosystems, ecosystem services and threats to their resilience, communication and outreach tools, MPA management operations, research and monitoring, sustainable financing and alternative livelihoods through creation of ecotourism operations, resources for meeting obligations to regional and international agreements and a field trip, also helped the 23 regional professionals hone in on what was important for them to address when they returned home.
“Now having a better understanding of how to address matters dealing with MPA's ecosystem, and the strategic management strategy that should be implemented to hedge against negative impact from both nature and humans, I will be implementing strategies in conformity with the Management Plan to ensure that the Antigua North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) is operating and managed in a smooth and orderly fashion, and that proper and pragmatic finance architecture are introduced to generate revenue, so that NEMMA can be self-supporting on a sustainable basis,” said Julien Lawrence of Antigua.
“As it was my first time attending this type of workshop, my mind was open to just learning from everyone about their experiences, mistakes, and to get more useful ideas on how to further develop/manage our Marine Park Area. These expectations have been met. One of the key messages I got from the workshop are that our fishing practices have to be re-addressed in order to protect our marine environment, especially promoting the catching of larger fishes to give the fishes enough time to regenerate and populate the sea to supply/provide for the future generations. I will also emphasise at home the importance of the parrot fish to our ecosystem,” said Danillia Joseph of Dominica.
These exchanges of ideas and interactions have continued past the life of the workshop as the participants, who were from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, were encouraged to join a private group on the BIOPAMA Yammer platform where workshop documents were shared and participants have also continued to share ideas and initiatives within the larger BIOPAMA Caribbean Yammer group.
BIOPAMA Protected Areas Officer Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn said: “One of BIOPAMA’s strengths is facilitating the desired and much-needed interaction and dialogue amongst the Caribbean PA community, through capacity building exercises such as this training; and eventually through the Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway.” The workshop, which ran for nine days until Thursday, February 26, was organized and funded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) BIOPAMA Programme, with contributions from the CaMPAM-ECMMAN Small Grants, coordinated by the Specially Protected Area and Wildlife (SPAW) Regional Activity Centre of the United Nations Environment Program Caribbean Environment Programme’s (UNEP-CEP) as part of the larger ECMMAN project run by The Nature Conservancy as well as the Grenada Fisheries Division.