On 30 November, the Ocean Governance Project’s Technical Director Puri Canals virtually attended the Interactive Dialogue on Ocean Governance as part of the Fifth Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean in Bangkok, Thailand. Alongside five other regional ocean experts, she discussed the key challenges and opportunities related to the protection and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems, and effective management of marine protected areas in South-East Asia. The key messages and outcomes from this discussion will feed into the Ministerial Roundtable taking place on 1 December.
In line with UN resolution ESCAP/RES/76/1 on “Strengthening cooperation to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific”, the Fifth Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean aims to support an inclusive dialogue on priority areas and challenges in the region. The event is co-hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With the South-East Asia region being one of the focal points of our impact, the Ocean Governance team welcomes the opportunity to be a part of this platform and regional dialogue.
On 18th October 2022, the Marine Mammals Twinning hosted a workshop focusing on the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit and its respective adaptation to marine turtles at the occasion of the 7th Mediterranean Conference on Marine Turtles, Tetouan (Morocco), highlighting the toolkit as a key tool for MPA managers, and its value for managing marine turtles within the Mediterranean.
Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of marine turtles in the Mediterranean, and the global Ocean.
Marine turtles – even at diminished population levels – play important ecological and socio-economic roles in the Mediterranean, however, commercial fishing, marine bycatch, loss of nesting habitat and coastal development, the influx of ocean pollution and climate change all continue to have a devastating impact on populations, pushing species to extinction. The future of marine turtles will be determined by our current and future actions, thus the development and implementation of good management plans for the conservation of these species should be an urgent priority.
Building upon the successes of the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit, and in line with the Twinning objective “Adapt the toolbox to other migratory species such as turtles or other significant species in South-East Asia.”, the Marine Mammal Twinning hosted a workshop that convened over 100 marine turtle experts, MPA managers, and stakeholders, to facilitate, and build an initial framework for the adaptation of the toolkit for marine turtles.
Following a morning of presentations and talks emphasising the need for ecosystem-based management, and the consideration of other mobile species within conservation actions, the workshop kick-offed with an introductory presentation on the EU-funded Ocean Governance Project, the Marine Mammal Twinning, and the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit. The Twinning recognised the vulnerability of mobile species within the region, pairing impacts and management actions for marine mammals and marine turtles.
Following a review of the components of the Toolkit, with special attention given to the Self-Assessment Tool and the Factsheets, participants were separated into five groups. These groups jointly discussed, proposed, and presented key considerations for MPA managers, and the Twinning, with respect to the effective management of marine turtles under the five core thematics of the toolkit: Management Frameworks, Addressing Threats and Activities, Research and Knowledge, Outreach and Engagement and Effective Management.
A result of these discussions is the development of a baseline of knowledge to formulate the production of a new toolkit for marine turtles. The Twinning will subsequently maintain communication with participants, sharing the advancements of the toolkit’s development, and acting as a precursor for a proposed large-scale workshop to be convened for the building, review, and assessment of the toolkit in 2023.
Thomas Dallison from the Marine Mammals Twinning presented the project’s marine mammals management toolkit.
We are very happy to see that over 100 people attended the workshop.
Last week the Ocean Governance project held one of its biggest and most exciting events since its launch in 2016. On 12th and 13th October, our team brought together more than 60 ocean professionals from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia to participate in two intense days of learning exchanges in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The event was jointly organised by the project consortium partners with the Regional Secretariat CTI-CFF.
At the heart of the learning exchange lay an awareness that – despite being separated by thousands of kilometres – MPA managers and ocean conservationists face many of the same challenges and problems all over the world. Gathering participants from countries around the Atlantic basin with those from South-East Asia created the unique opportunity to gain new perspectives, share lessons learned and connect directly with each other.
The two-day event had a full programme of 16 sessions, covering topics such as the financial sustainability of MPAs, management effectiveness, protection of marine mammals, marine turtles, restoration of corals and mangroves, as well as coastal resilience. Speakers came from countries including Argentina, Senegal, Spain, Dominican Republic and those around the Coral Triangle: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor Leste. The lively discussions both during and outside the sessions showed that there is a clear need for MPA managers and conservationists worldwide to connect with one another and share knowledge, successes and even failures.
The event also gave the Ocean Governance project the opportunity to expand its network of partners and extend its twinning projects to South-East Asian countries. Numerous participants expressed their appreciation for the event, which it is hoped will act as a catalyst for new partnerships and fresh approaches to the conservation of oceans and marine protected areas.
The Learning Exchanges ended with a field visit to Manukan Island, part of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a state park located 3km offshore from Kota Kinabalu. This gave participants the chance to converse more informally while enjoying the beauty of nature, which is so dear to everyone involved.
Ultimately, the Learning Exchanges between the Atlantic and South-East Asia left the participants with new ideas, approaches and opportunities for the effective protection of the ocean in their countries. It was the project’s first big in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic and was evidence of the added value of bringing people together in real life rather than over video calls. A big thank you goes out to all participants, partners, co-organisers, and the European Union for supporting this invaluable initiative.
From 9 to 11 October 2022, the annual workshop of the MPA Networks Twinning Project took place in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, ahead of the Learning Exchanges with South-East Asia.
Networks Twinning Coordinator Puri Canals was delighted to be able to bring together several partners from all over the world despite the long journey, which confirms the value that these face-to-face exchanges bring to the members of our network community. For this workshop, we welcomed Alexandra Sapoznikow from the Patagonian Forum, Marie Romani and Carole Martinez from MedPAN, Phénia Marras from the French Biodiversity Agency, Israel Santana Caraballo from the Environment Ministry of the Dominican Republic, Lauren Wenzel from NOAA and Mamadou Sidibe from Community MPAs Senegal.
After some welcoming words by Puri Canals, Charles Besancon presented the preliminary results of his desk study about Networks of MPA managers effectiveness, inviting the partners to continue to contribute to it with their own experiences. The study aims to develop a framework for the effectiveness of MPA networks, which will be especially useful to newly emerging networks.
The twinning partners also took this opportunity to coordinate joint action at upcoming international events, including COP15 and IMPAC5. The first day ended with discussions around technical topics, such as the greater inclusion of marine turtles into protection efforts, planning for ecosystem restoration at national and regional scales, and opportunities for sustainable funding.
A big part of the second day of the annual workshop was dedicated to the future of the Twinning against the backdrop of the scheduled ending of the Ocean Governance Project at the end of next year. There was consensus that the continuation of the MPA network community would contribute to the successful management of MPAs worldwide and should be further developed in the future. Since the project’s initiation in 2016 the network has grown significantly and developed into an invaluable platform of knowledge production and sharing for the now twenty-two members. The annual workshop ended with preparations for the Learning Exchange with South-East Asia in the following days, where all partners made contributions about their respective MPA network’s experiences and benefited from exchanges with MPA managers in the region.
On 18 March, project partners WWF announced that they entered a public-private partnership with Epson, a global leader in image processing technologies. Epson will support WWF to scale coral and mangrove restoration efforts in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines as part of Component 1 of the project (protection and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems in the South-East-Asia region).
The Coral Triangle, recognised as the Earth’s epicentre of marine biodiversity, has suffered from immense coral loss due to overfishing, unsustainable tourism, urbanisation and the climate crisis.
In Indonesia, WWF and Epson will focus on reef rehabilitation and responsible marine tourism in Indonesia’s Alor Marine Protected Area. The focus in Malaysia is coral restoration efforts using the spider frame method on Mabul Island, while in the Philippines, it is mangrove restoration in Southern Palawan.
Beyond restoring corals and mangroves, WWF and Epson plan to build capacity among local communities so that they may eventually manage their coastal resources independently. Community Learning and Innovation Hubs will thus be established as places of exchange and education.
Mr. R. Raghunathan, WWF-Singapore CEO, said: “lasting conservation impact is achieved through collaboration with sincere partners. We look forward to working closely with Epson who are committed to real climate action and to drive meaningful efforts to ensure that conservation of our environment is in tandem with economic empowerment and humans living in harmony with nature.”
The Ocean Governance Project will reach the end of its 4-year mandate in 2023. This is why public-private partnerships are so important, as they ensure the sustainability of our work. It is hoped that the agreement between WWF and Epson is just the first of many of its kind.
Both corals and mangroves play a very important role in protecting coastal communities as they form natural barriers that make the coastline more resilient to natural forces. They also serve as essential habitats for many different species, being their feeding or breeding ground. Of course, local populations and tourists alike enjoy the sight of corals and mangroves as well, hence why these ecosystems offer opportunities for recreation and the tourism sector. Unfortunately, coral reefs and mangroves face a myriad of local and global threats, including destructive fishing practices, climate change and plastic pollution. One of the components of the Ocean Governance Project is therefore dedicated to funding restoration projects in three countries in the Coral Triangle, where an immense diversity of coral species can be found.
In 2022, three restoration projects funded by the Ocean Governance project got the ball rolling with grant agreements between the restoration site authorities and our consortium partners WWF. The restoration sites are Tun Mustapha park in Sabah, Malaysia, the Derawan Marine Protected Area in the East Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, and mangrove forests in Balabac, Palawan, Philippines. Restoring coral reefs and mangroves involves raw materials, transportation and hands-on labour – having sufficient funding, therefore, is a critical element of success, and the Ocean Governance Project is very happy to provide these opportunities. Sabah Parks Director Dr Maklarin Lakim is convinced that the allocated funding will bring about significant change: “We are confident that with the half a million ringgit fund, we could have a football field-sized artificial reef.” At all three restoration sites, there is a big emphasis on community involvement. Including the coastal communities, fishermen, local NGOs and other stakeholders in the restoration efforts is necessary and a very powerful driver of change. Shuiab J. Astami, the Mayor of Balabac, says that “mangroves regenerate naturally but human activities like tan barking have degraded this ecosystem; today people plant mangroves for their benefit in the coming years.”
It is great to see that restoration works have begun in all three countries and are steadily moving forward. A big thank you goes out to our consortium partners WWF-Malaysia, WWW-Indonesia and WWF-Philippines for their collaboration and work on the ground.
For more information about the restoration sites go to Restoration in South-East Asia.