The EU-funded MMMPA (Training network for monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas) project set out to train the next generation of marine scientists. The initiative equipped them with skills essential for a range of professional environments, including public administration, local authorities, industry and academia. Participants used their skills to monitor the distribution and state of health of habitats and key species having a high value in term of conservation. They developed fishery management at the local level, outlined management guidelines, and engaged with local stakeholders and the wider society. Under the project, conventional scientific marine monitoring techniques (e.g. visual census, video/photosampling, genetic tools, assessment of trophic status) were combined with novel technologies. These included underwater 3D biocartography together with webGIS methodologies and holistic socioeconomic approaches, offering high-accuracy monitoring that is more cost efficient. Against this backdrop, MMMPA supported MPAs by delivering monitoring frameworks and indicators regarding key habitats and their biodiversity. It also developed legal and social frameworks that inform and support MPA planning, promote collaboration and increase environmental awareness among the public. Practical experience in the field of marine conservation was improved through secondments to MPAs and SMEs, thereby strengthening the Mediterranean Research Area. In addition, project participants improved their technical skills, expertise, and the exploitation of relevant tools and concepts, increasing the value of their research projects. During secondments, MMMPA fellows helped MPA managers develop their knowledge of the habitats and species present in their protected areas. The tools and techniques developed by the project were formalised in specific guidelines and disseminated to participating MPAs as well as to specific audiences such as managers, policymakers and scientists. The results were also highlighted through conferences, reports, events and videos. The increasing drive by field authorities to link science, policy, knowledge and governance of coastal social-ecological systems led to a joint final workshop between MMMPA and the Mediterranean Science Commission. This has helped the project’s participants and trainees in advancing their careers in the field.
Marine scientists, Marine Protected Areas, MMMPA, marine monitoring, biodiversity