MedPAN, in partnership with Port-Cros National Park and Miraceti just organised a hands-on 5-day training on the conservation and monitoring of cetaceans across Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). It was held in Cavalaire, France, with the support of the Observatoire marin du Golfe de St Tropez. This session is part of the mobile species training cycle of the MedPAN Regular Training Programme which started in 2019 and is designed to build MPA operational capacity on targeted topics.
Despite the challenging conditions dictated by the epidemics, 4 MPA practitioners were able to join the training, representing Brijuni and Mljet National Parks as well as Telascica Nature Reserve in Croatia and Plemmirio MPA in Italy. Two days in class and 3 days at sea onboard a sailing boat, in a real-life observation campaign situation, were originally planned, but the windy weather only allowed the crew to spend 2 days at sea.
The curriculum of the training was developed by Miraceti, a French NGO resulting from the merger in June 2020 of 3 associations that have been working for many years on the study and conservation of cetaceans in the French Mediterranean: GIS3M, GECEM and Souffleurs d’Ecume.
Miraceti was also in charge of delivering the training, which they did in a highly interactive fashion. In-class sessions followed a logical sequence successively addressing the different steps required for the development and implementation of an adaptive management strategy (context, objectives, needs and constraints, methodology, protocols, financing, logistics, implementation of monitoring and measures, evaluation, adaptation). At sea sessions reproduced the conditions of a real life observation campaign with observers roles and positions on the boat as well as reporting duties. Unfortunately, military exercises nearby scared sperm whales away and none were sighted, but striped dolphins did come by to test the trainees newly acquired skills…
The overall objective of this operational training was to provide trainees with sufficient background, expertise and experience to design and implement a cetacean management strategy adapted to their needs and resources in an integrated global context.
“This training came at just the right time for us” reported Milena Ramov, conservation manager at Telascica nature park. “In 2021 all parks in Croatia need to update their management plans and we wish to better account for cetacean conservation, doing so in a coordinated fashion across the country. This training will definitely give us a head start.”
The training also includes two half-day webinars with the trainees, scheduled 6 months and one year from now, in order to assess the implementation of monitoring and management measures in the MPAs of the 4 trainees, and to help resolve issues and difficulties if relevant.
There is a real need in the Mediterranean for trainings such as this one and the ambition is to repeat it over time as part of the mobile species training cycle of the MedPAN Regular Training Programme. So the MPA practitioners who expressed their interest to join but were not selected this time (over 70 applications were received!) may have a chance next time. A filming crew covered the training in Cavalaire and will soon produce a short teaser to promote the training. ACCOBAMS, which is one of the partners of the Regular Training Programme and supports harmonised monitoring approaches in the Mediterranean, is its sponsor.
This training benefited from the financial support of the Interreg EU Med MPA NETWORKS project, the OFB and the COGITO project