Officers from New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna have a better understanding of the available technologies to help Marine Protected Area surveillance, through a study commissioned by the Agence Française pour la Biodiversité (AFB).
A workshop on Marine Protected Area Surveillance and Management was held in Noumea, New Caledonia from 9 to 11 July, 2018, to present findings of the MPA surveillance technology study and the MPA surveillance technology decision support tool.
The workshop was coordinated by the AFB and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) as part of the Pacific Biodiversity Blue Belt Project funded under the European Best 2.0 grant. The project supports New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and Pitcairn, in their efforts to protect marine and coastal ecosystems
“This study presented participants with a comprehensive list of available technologies that will help MPA managers to monitor activities within the MPA,” said Mr Franck Connan, the Marine Environment and Conservation Specialist on secondment to SPREP from France.
“Ultimately ensuring that activities undertaken within an MPA are in line with the principles of the MPA and not detrimental to the MPA’s themselves and the marine species conserved within them.”
The workshop consisted of three components. The first was dedicated to taking stock on the project’s activities, the second was a presentation on MPA surveillance technologies, and the third was learning about and handling the decision support tool, which is called ‘choice of surveillance technology’.
The ‘Choice of Surveillance’ support tool was developed to help the Pacific islands with the surveillance of their MPA’s as according to the different island needs. It was showcased at the workshop with a special session on the use of this tool using real life scenarios that may be experienced by the MPA managers.
Also present at the workshop were two representatives from the Cook Islands who were there as part of a Sister Site Agreement with New Caledonia aiming to share experience relating to MPAs.
The Marine Protected Areas of the Cook Islands and New Caledonia collectively make up 3.276 million sq km. This consists of the Cook Islands Marine Park, Maraea Moana, at close to 2 million sq km, while the Natural Park of the Coral Sea in New Caledonia is 1.3 million sq km.
“Important lessons learned and experiences were shared at this workshop such as the process of developing the Coral Sea Nature Park’s management plan,” said Mr Connan.
“We learnt how the underwater and coastal trails in French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna came into being and how they are expected to increase users knowledge of the importance and pressures faced by these ecosystems. The range of the methodological tools that can be used for marine spatial planning were also presented. All of this is very valuable as we help empower each other to maintain our MPA’s.”
The Pacific Biodiversity Blue Belt project coordinates regional and national activities and offers financial support to the four Pacific islands towards the ocean’s integrated management and biodiversity conservation by implementing MPAs. It also supports the study of surveillance tools for MPAs and increasing awareness on biodiversity issues through underwater and coastal trails and reinforcing ecotourism activities.
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