Workshop puts focus on MPAs in Caribbean EU Overseas territories
MPA managers from across EU Overseas entities and other countries in the Caribbean region have attended a workshop held in St. Martin on the topic of building marine ecosystem resilience through the use of MPA networks. The event has been hailed a great success with stakeholders using the platform to share best practices and where they also discussed a regional approach to support actions on the ground.
Eighteen marine enviromental managers of the French, Dutch and U.K Overseas Territories and collaborators from other islands and intermational organizations gathered in St. Martin, French West Indies, to exchange information on their MPA strengths and weakenesses and the challenges they face to address climate change.
The 2-day workshop was funded by the French Aid Agency (AFD) and convened by the IUCN EU Overseas Program in collaboration with the UNEP-CEP SPAW Regional Activity Center (based in Guadeloupe, FWI) and with support of the Caribbean MPA management Network and Forum (CaMPAM). All participants agreed that improving management effectiveness to support environmental resilience; and assisting policy makers at the island level for better integrated planning and fostering of regional activities will help all islands’ societies to develop sustainable and effective adaptation strategies and better cope with the consequences of climate change (higher water temperature, sea levels and acidification).
The Workshop in particular focussed on the following key questions:
• Which are the management practices that have each of the MPAs represented that consider and address large spatial and time scale threats to coastal environments, including those generated by global climate changes and those generated by local human uses?
• Which are the best practices that each MPA can share with the other MPAs in the EU territories and other neighbor islands of the Caribbean to address regionally the local and global threats? (joint projects, networking, policy development)
• What are the multi-island initiatives that each of the 3 country-led organizations (from the Netherlands, France and UK) are currently implementing that can be applied in, emulated by or coordinated with other islands (EU or non EU countries)?
Despite the common challenges for all small islands, specific challenges were apparent and most of them related to the different management status of MPAs and the socioeconomic context. In all cases, increasing coastal development is the common and most evident issue, with fisheries management another major concern for most MPAs.
Ms. Carole Martinez (coordinator of the IUCN EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories Programme) introduced the workshop and stressed the importance of identifying the needs both at the MPA level, the national and the regional levels in order to develop common actions to better assist MPA managers, practitioners and decision makers. She also mentioned the importance to raise awareness on the key role of coastal and marine ecosystems for climate change adpatation.
During the discussions the MPA Managers emphasized the need of using roving teams to conduct biophysical monitoring in all islands, the importance of exchanging information, and the involvement of local stakeholders to improve MPA management. They also pointed out the importance of effective management and planning of marine and coastal ecosystems ( e.g. maximising the usefulness of MPAs, so that they are better prepared to face climate change).
Dr. Owen Day (director of the Caribsave C-FISH program) and Dr. Georgina Bustamante (CaMPAM coordinator) emphasized the need to engage local fishermen in MPA management so as to to reduce parrotfish fishing and ideally grant fishing exclusive rights to local fishers. They also said that such activities should take place in combination with no-take areas in order to restore the island’s coral reef health and fisheries (which have been deteriorated over decades because of overfishing), as a preparatory action to increase resilience.
Ms. Helen Souan, director of SPAW-RAC, expressed the commitment of the SPAW program Regional Activity Center of the UNEP-CEP to partner with IUCN in developing a program in support of facing climate change for all the islands.
It was concluded at the end of the workshop to develop several concrete actions in order to support both MPA managers but as well local and national governments for suitable adaptation strategies.
To read the full report of the workshop click here
To see the presentations given during the event click on the links at the side of this page.