Through a programme of presentations, structured discussions and activities participants in a ‘best practice workshop’ shared experiences and thoughts about setting up, managing and monitoring MPAs and engaging with stakeholders and communities in the process. The workshop was held on 11-12 March in Glasgow and brought together 34 researchers and practitioners from academia, conservation organisations, environmental regulators, community groups and local councils. They were introduced to the MarPAMM project and met key personnel working on developing management plans for our regions before finding out from others about past and ongoing MPA relevant projects.
The main take home messages from the workshop were:
- Experience: Although no regional MPA management plans have yet been completed in our region, there is a wealth of experience to build upon on from setting up to managing activities in MPAs.
- Importance of stakeholders and communities: The best mechanisms how to engage may vary for each audience and circumstance, but must result in positive relationships based on a shared understanding of the MPAs, their features, the issues and what all concerned want to achieve. Stakeholders and communities must feel valued and play a role in the stewardship of the MPAs alongside public bodies. They also must feel and see the benefits of being involved. The process must be open and transparent and everyone involved needs to understand the roles and responsibilities of all parties.
- Achieving goals: To achieve our objectives we need to be clear on what features, MPAs and issues the plans will cover. Plans need to consider the resources available and the best way of using them.
- Enthusiasm and will: The various MPA teams were enthusiastic about the ambitious plans of MarPAMM and expressed positive support, as did several stakeholders. It is important that the project maintains this as support from stakeholders gives officials and politicians confidence to take decision and support and promote what we are trying to achieve.
Read the full MPA management planning workshop report. The Annex (link) contains all slides shown during the workshop.