Connecting Marine Protected Area Managers in the Caribbean

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[Mérida] (November 6, 2017) MPAConnect, a growing network of Caribbean marine protected area managers is working with GCFI and NOAA to increase the effectiveness of their marine conservation efforts.

Since 2010, a partnership between the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) has worked with a network of coral reef marine protected areas in 10 Caribbean countries and territories to address marine protected area management capacity building needs. 

“These marine protected areas are especially important places in the Caribbean because of the health of their coral reefs, their governments’ commitment to international protected area initiatives and because of the potential of these conservation efforts to make a real difference on the ground,” explains Emma Doyle of GCFI. “They’re also ecologically connected to one another and to coral reefs and fisheries in the United States”.

Over the past six years, GCFI and NOAA have implemented a series of regional workshops for peer-to-peer sharing, focused on the network’s highest priority management needs that were identified by the participating managers in 2011, including sustainable financing, law enforcement, bio-physical and socio-economic monitoring, and outreach/education. These regional workshops have been followed by site-specific technical support, small projects, learning exchanges and regional and international networking opportunities.  

Looking to the future, GCFI and NOAA are pleased to announce the branding of the Caribbean marine protected area capacity building partnership as “MPAConnect - a network for learning among Caribbean marine resource managers”.

“We’re also happy to re-affirm the continuation of the management capacity building and networking efforts by GCFI and NOAA in the Caribbean,” commented Ms. Doyle. 

“Since the inception of the capacity building partnership, MPAConnect has grown to have 30 marine protected area members with the addition in 2017 of four new priority sites in The Bahamas, Belize, Mexico and the Netherlands Caribbean.” 

The other member sites are in the Turks & Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Sint Eustatius, Saba, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Mexico and Honduras.

The members of the network have recently re-assessed the status of their MPA management capacity and updated their priority capacity building and networking needs. The assessment findings show that investment in capacity building and networking for Caribbean marine protected area managers is paying dividends for the implementation of effective marine protection in the region. The updated status of Caribbean MPA management capacity and new priority needs identified in the assessment will be presented at 2:30pm on Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the 70thannual GCFI meeting in Mérida, Mexico. 

For more information please contact emma.doyle [at] gcfi.org