The MPA NETWORKS project kick-off took place on February 4 in Marseille. Representatives from the 10 partners of the project as well as from several associated partners and other organisations (such as the Pelagos Sanctuary, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority or the MAVA Foundation) took part in an afternoon of active debates around the activities of the project and the synergies that can be fostered around the Mediterranean.
The partners and associated partners of the project will work together to build stronger MPA managers networks at all levels to contribute to the effectiveness of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas.
The MPA NETWORKS project will focus on providing sustainable solutions to challenges requiring a supra MPA approach. These challenges include the global question of management effectiveness, and more specifically the management of small scale fisheries in MPAs, the conservation of mobile species and the development of sustainable financing mechanisms for MPAs.
Several types of activities will be led either sequentially or simultaneously. Nine pilot projects in 7 countries will be designed and implemented to address aspects of the challenges described above. Methodologies issued from previous projects (Programme Med and others) will be selected and tested in the field. Lessons learned will be shared among the Mediterranean MPA community. These experiences will also feed a permanent Mediterranean training programme on the selected subjects that was recently developed and that will be further matured with the MPA NETWORKS project. Specific networking activities between MPAs will also be organised for direct peer-to peer support. On a wider level, regional, national or supra national networks of MPA Managers will be supported to build strong alliances of sites sharing similar characteristics or pressures. And finally, the joined forces of these networks will give rise to a coordinated MPA voice with shared recommendations to support pro-MPA policy-making at international, European, and national levels.
The project is surely ambitious but spirits are high and the partnership is ready for action