ICMMPA Daily Log
Day Three – April 1, 2009

Marine Guides and Interpreter Training

Deborah Benham, Dolphin Space Programme, UK

Overview: Guides and naturalists working in the marine environment, particularly with vulnerable species or in protected areas, are critically placed in regard to delivering conservation messages and engendering more responsible visitor attitudes & behaviour. However, they are often undertrained and undervalued as a profession. This training session will share our experiences at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in developing a training and accreditation programme for marine interpreters. We will discuss and demonstrate some key techniques for effectively communicating conservation to the public, whilst delivering a high quality and enjoyable visitor experience. There will also be lots of opportunity for other groups & participants to share their experiences and techniques in regard to interpretation and guide/naturalist training.

Outcomes: Utilizing the basics of a time-tested training program developed by the International Association for Interpretation, the goal is to develop as series of marine guide/naturalist trainings.  Training programs will be developed for a variety of levels from one-day training programs for practitioners associated with subsistence level communities to professional level training to train-the-trainer courses.  Additionally, the training programs will be tailored to the local environment and people.  Through the training programs, guides will be taught important marine conservation concepts as well as techniques to inform and motivate listeners to take action. The ultimate goal is to connect people with the marine environment and to inspire them to become fully engaged in marine conservation.

Monitoring MPAs to Achieve Success – MPA Check Up and Review

Gonzalo Cid, NOAA NOS, USA and Steve Gittings NOAA ONMS, USA

Overview: One of the essential tools of management is monitoring the status of the resources the MPA has been designated to protect. Developing an effective monitoring program for MMPAs is something almost every protected area manager has struggled with, and each has learned much from that experience. This session affords an opportunity for participants to share that hard-won experience with others. Examples will include the US National Marine Sanctuary Program’s System Wide Monitoring Program (SWiM) and “How is your MPA doing? A guidebook of natural and social indicators for evaluating marine protected areas management effectiveness”, developed by IUCN, WWF and the NOAA, will be highlighted. However, anyone with a story to tell about their MMPA monitoring efforts is encouraged to come and share it with the group. 

Outcomes: The discussion focused on some misconceptions about monitoring.  Many of the participants thought that monitoring was primarily useful for conveying the importance of supporting the continuation of the MPA to funding sources and decision-makers.  The conveners provided an expanded view on the usefulness of monitoring, one that leads to increasing effectiveness of management in MMPAs.  By first identifying goals and objectives for the MMPA, then developing strategies and action items in the form of a management plan, monitoring can be used to evaluate effectiveness.  Through an adaptive management scheme, strategies and action items can be revised in order to increase effectiveness.  This process, and the improved effectiveness it can yield, can serve as an even stronger message about why an MMPA should continue to be funded.  Participants responded positively to the concept and many will begin this process with their MMPA.

Mapping Cetacean Critical Habitat Areas and Turning Them into MMPA Networks: toward practical solutions

Erich Hoyt, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Overview: The overall goal of this workshop is to assist regional marine mammal experts, NGOs, and government ministries from Latin America, the Pacific Islands Region, Bangladesh and South Asia and other areas of the world in devising effective MMPA networks to recommend for designation.

Outcomes: More than 30 MPA managers, marine mammal researchers and NGO representatives collaborated (1) to help determine fast, effective and efficient ways of determining critical habitat for cetaceans in order to facilitate the establishment of marine protected area networks, and (2) to find ways of mapping and making the data accessible to relevant stakeholders, government agencies and the public at large. Presentations on critical habitat/ MPA approaches and progress in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Argentina, the Pacific Islands Region, Bangladesh, the Amazon River, Alaska, and Hawaii provided participants with an indication of the broad scope and variability inherent in these different settings. 

Following these case studies the group exchanged ideas about mapping apex species’ distribution patterns, global oceanographic and marine species databases, and survey techniques for identifying and defining cetacean habitat.. It was recommended that researchers employ a variety of techniques during surveys to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of cetacean critical habitat. In addition, the group stressed the need for excellent survey design and for understanding population structure, behavior and threats as well as sighting locations. A small working group was convened to draft a ‘toolkit’ of collaborative research techniques that could be used to investigate questions related to cetacean habitat. The workshop also placed emphasis on developing low-cost survey techniques and in contributing to skills, resources and capacity building opportunities to researchers and MPA staff in less developed countries to help them obtain the data necessary to create and maintain MMPA networks.

A highlight of the workshop was the revelation of a healthy population of some 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh waters – the largest such population in the world, and, even more important, the protected area network being proposed to keep them healthy. The news from the workshop soon spread around the world, picked up by dozens of newspapers, websites, TV news and wires, including CNN, the Guardian and The New York Times. The workshop participants agreed that the Bangladesh network, which would protect 7 species of whales and dolphins, could be a model network for all of South Asia.

Exploring the Role of Culture (indigenous, historical, modern) in Managing MPA’s

`Aulani Wilhelm – Superintendent, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Overview: The goal of this workshop is to capture shared understandings, conclusions and recommendations for managers to use to better incorporate indigenous, historical and local knowledge and resource management into effective management of marine mammals and their habitats.  An emphasis will be placed on the engagement of indigenous and local communities in marine mammal “management” and how traditional ways of networking, often still used among indigenous communities today, remain effective in fostering communication, collaboration and linkages among contemporary marine mammal MPAs.

Outcomes: Nineteen participants from thirteen countries convened to share experiences, challenges and to find ways to integrate traditional knowledge into MMPA management.  Participants developed key messages and recommendations. An informal network to further develop these ideas was established with the hope that the relationships will continue to strengthen and expand over time.  Virtual meetings will take place to further discussions.

MMPAs and MMPA Networks for Monk Seal Conservation:  Hawaii and Mediterranean

Lisa Van Atta, NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Region Office

Overview: This four-hour workshop provides a unique opportunity for Mediterranean and Hawaiian monk seal researchers and managers to present the most current information on the species inhabiting each geographical region and to detail management and research efforts designed to enhance recovery of the species.  Discussions will focus on both the successes and failures of efforts aimed at enhancing species recovery (MPAs and other actions) and shared challenges directly linked to the conservation of both species.  Summaries of the biology, natural history, conservation efforts, and factors impeding recovery will be presented by invited speakers from the both the Mediterranean (specifically, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey) and Hawaii.  Workshop participants will be asked to list topics where capacity building and collaboration will aid in recovery of the genus and priority action items for future conservation efforts will be identified. The workshop will close with a summary of the issues presented and follow-up actions to be considered by each region.

Outcomes: This session brought managers and scientists from the two regions together to discuss common challenges and perceived successes on monk seal conservation.  Some shared challenges include funding, incomplete/ineffective enforcement of existing laws and regulations, multi-jurisdictional issues and education and outreach issues.  The issue of monk seal rehabilitation was discussed in some detail.  Successful rehabilitation is difficult due to many factors including the “imprinting” of monk seals on humans which jeopardizes their success after release.  For these critically endangered species, successful rehabilitation is a key to success, so this topic will continue to be an important one.  The use of cameras attached to animals, or critter cams, was discussed as a means to gather scientific information on seal behavior, but more importantly, as an outreach tool.  When people are able to “look through the eyes” of the monk seal, their imagination is captured.  This technique will also be discussed in more detail in future collaborations. Finally, key day-to-day “players” in each region were indentified and they plan to greatly increase communication between the groups via virtual and, when possible, physical meetings in order to build on the success of this workshop. 

A Management Planning Framework for MPAs

Anne Walton, NOAA ONMS, USA and Jason Philibotte, NOAA Fisheries, USA

Overview: This four-hour workshop provides a dynamic and interactive approach to working through some of the key process steps for developing an MPA management plan. Starting with the basics of stakeholder identification, then moving towards building management responses to impacts on priority resource protection targets, each workshop participant will leave with an understanding of the overall process and some basic tools for getting started on management planning.

Outcomes: The participants in this training were geographically diverse, hailing from Europe, South America and Asia.  However, each stated their confusion on how to begin the management planning process.  They all expressed concern that the obstacles they faced appeared too large to overcome.  By breaking down the management planning process into small, achievable steps, this training provided a framework to allow each participant to move forward with confidence.  Additionally, each learned that the issues they faced were common issues faced by many MPA managers and this training provided a basis for networking in the future.  By all accounts this training was a very helpful and a big success.

The Role of Education in the Community and on the Water

Deborah Benham, Dolphin Space Programme, UK and Patty Miller, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary , USA

Overview: Education and outreach play a very important role in raising awareness of and protecting Marine Protected Areas.  How do we get the word out?  This session will give folks a chance to share programs and projects that work and discuss how you go about evaluating them.  We will look at how you can expand and improve the effectiveness of your communication through use of on-line resources, volunteer programs, training and outreach efforts.  Join us to become part of this discussion and knowledge sharing group.

Outcomes: Coming Soon!

Symposium 2: Managing MMPAs (continued)

Moderator: David Matilla, Science and Rescue Coordinator, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary


Lindy Weilgart, Research Associate, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Canada

Maria Elizabeth Carvalho da Rocha, Southern Right Whale Environmental Protection Area (MPA), Brazil

Nikolai Pavlov, Director, Komondor Islands State Nature Biosphere Reserve, Russia

Craig MacDonald, NOAA’s Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, USA

Idelisa Bonelly de Calventi, Executive Director of the Dominican Marine Studies Foundation,           Dominican Republic

Lisa Andon, Micronesia Conservation Trust, Federated State of Micronesia

This symposium presented a variety of issues and management strategies for managing MMPAs.  Impacts and mitigation techniques regarding underwater acoustics from seismic surveys, sonar and shipping was discussed.  The role of indigenous peoples, producing management strategies in developing nations using stakeholder processes and funding mechanisms were also explored. The highlight was the discussion of the establishment of the “sister sanctuaries” model established between the sites protecting the winter calving grounds and the summer feeding grounds for the North Atlantic population of humpback whales.  These sites are located in the Dominican Republic and at Stellwagen Bank of the Massachusetts coast in the US, respectively.  This collaboration exemplifies the type of networking that International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas is all about. 

Panel 6: MPAs and MPA Networks vs “Traditional Marine Mammal Management Tools – Are they Alternatives or to be Integrated?

Convener: Randall Reeves, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Cetacean Specialist Group, Canada


Michael Simpkins, NOAA Fisheries, Office of International Affairs, USA

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Honorary President, Tethys Research Institute, Milano, Italy

Liz Slooten, Otago University, NZ

Karin Forney, NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA

Tudai Agrady, Sound Seas, USA

Sue Miller-Taei, Conervation International, Samoa

Mike Donoghue, Department of Conservation, NZ

More Information Coming Soon!