Marine Protected Areas in the Spotlight

17 September 2017

The 4th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 4) represented a tremendous resource for showcasing the work of the BIOPAMA regional observatories for protected areas and biodiversity in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions, with a focus on the marine work.

IUCN regional and global partners acted as ambassadors of the work being achieved under the BIOPAMA programme to improve the access to the best available science and knowledge, and especially to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks on protected areas and biodiversity conservation.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission presented the EU information systems and tools for supporting marine conservation issues, inviting participants to a discussion about the use and need of these tools. They include the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) and the Reference Information System ( developed in the framework of the BIOPAMA programme. Outcomes of this session highlight the important role of web tools for data and information management, as well as the need for them to be translated into knowledge easy to visualize for the planning and decision making processes. The engagements at regional levels, collaborations between organizations on data sharing and networking were identified as the proper approach to define the direction to move forward with the online information platforms. This approach corresponds with the missions of the BIOPAMA regional observatories, acting as regional resource hubs to support decision making and more effective management and hosting regional information systems (RRIS).

Regional marine protected area networks for the Caribbean (CaMPAM), West Africa (RAMPAO), the Mediterranean (MedPAN) and Transatlantic Initiative showcased the power and added value of these networks for marine conservation and people. CaMPAM and RAMPAO are among the key regional stakeholders and partners of the BIOPAMA regional observatories for the Caribbean and respectively West and Central Africa. With their collaboration, the Regional Observatories for these regions became knowledge centres facilitating network of experts and institutions, coordinate technical and policy support, and host Regional Reference Information Systems (RRIS). This is of high relevance in the context of the CBD recommendations to Parties, other Governments and competent intergovernmental organizations to cooperate collectively or on a regional, sub regional basis to identify and adopt appropriate measures for the conservation and sustainable use. The regional networks of marine protected areas represented in this workshop emphasized BIOPAMA’s crucial role in promoting the sharing experience, making accessible the best available science and through the RRIS building up ecological and effective management connectivity.

The Socio-economic Monitoring for Coastal Management (SocMon) is a global initiative implemented with the goal of establishing socio-economic coastal and marine monitoring programmes at the site level. In the Caribbean, the initiative is located in the institution that hosts the BIOPAMA Regional Observatory for the Caribbean region, the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), the University of The West Indies (UWI). SocMon represents a relevant source of information on a key component of BIOPAMA such as the socio-economic dimension. IMPAC 4 created the space for the reflection on the support BIOPAMA can offer to the SocMon activities and especially in the context of the Reference Information System and ensure an optimal visualization of the socio-economic information. 

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