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Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas

Final Report Summary - MMMPA (Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas)

The “Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Area project” (MMMPA) was launched in January 2012 and ended in December 2015. The scope of the network was to shape the profile of the next generation of MPAs managers. Considering the key role of MPAs in achieving biodiversity conservation targets set at the international level, and the high discrepancy in the actual management between the existing Mediterranean MPAs, it is pivotal to reinforce these with concrete measures of management and governance capacity.
To do this, the MMMPA project was structured around five scientific Work Packages (WPs), consisting of 10 inter-related sub-programmes where ‘usual’ scientific techniques in the field of marine monitoring (e.g. visual census, video/photosampling, genetic tools, assessment of trophic status) were complemented by emerging supra-disciplinary fields such as underwater 3D biocartography merged with webGIS methodologies and holistic socio-economic approaches. This approach aimed to provide high accuracy in monitoring incorporating low cost methods, taking into account the budgetary constraints that MPAs currently encounter. Other WPs were dedicated to joint training activities, dissemination and outreach of results, and management and coordination activities.
MMMPA kicked off with 5 Universities, 1 Research Centre, 1 SME and 5 MPAs but the consortium has grown incorporating new partners, i.e. 2 MPAs, 1 SME and 1 research centre. A unique opportunity was offered to MMMPA fellows to visit as many of these project partners as desired (secondments) to get first hand experience of the day-to-day management of MPAs, which helped them develop a rich set of multidisciplinary skills. Collaborations and interaction also developed outside the borders of the project, as the fellows attended external courses and training events to improve their technical skills and expertise e.g. in the use of relevant tools and about concepts increasing value of their research projects.
MMMPA has not been only focused on scientific achievements but rather on ensuring that the research outputs are suitable for MPAs’ managers and policy makers, to be readily used in decision-making. This has been strongly supported by the direct engagement of the fellows in the dissemination and communication of own findings to specialised audiences (e.g. maganers, policy makers, scientists) as well as to the wider public. Results have been presented at various international conferences and public events, producing stakeholder feedback reports, holding stakeholder feedback meetings and through the media and production of outreach videos.
Throughout the life of the project, the fellows have progressively established connections, encouraged by the annual training events, simultaneous secondments, and by the joint work on shared deliverables. Indeed, continuous interactions and communication have led to experience and expertise to be shared efficiently within a cohesive scientific network strengthened by growing personal and professional relationships with other researchers (both early stage and well established) and stakeholders. On top of this, since linking science and policy, knowledge and governance of coastal social-ecological systems is a subject of particular interest for the CIESM Scientific Committee on Coastal Ecosystem and Marine Policy (Committee 6), it was agreed to jointly hold the final MMMPA conference and the CIESM Committee workshop. This is expected to boost the impact of project results, and of the employability of its trainees.