Marine conservationists get training |13 August 2019
A week-long training for 31 Marine Protected Area (MPA) professionals from Seychelles, Kenya and Tanzania was launched yesterday morning at the Beau Vallon Bay Resort and Casino.
The purpose of the training is to develop peer trainers in areas that are critical to managing marine monitoring, data management and graphing and strategic decision-making and management.
The training is being conducted in partnership with the SMART Seas Programme and the Pew Fellowship Project, which is part of a collaboration between the SNPA (Seychelles National Parks Authority) and Dr Jennifer O’Leary, creator of the SAM’s (Strategic Adaptive Management) approach.
It is the third of its kind which is held under the regional SAM programme here in Seychelles, following the second one in August 2017, which was held on Curieuse Island.
SAM was co-developed with agencies such as the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserve unit (TMPR) and the SNPA to work with them and help their staff grow and focus less on reinforcement and more towards conservation.
“This training is the culmination of ten years of effort to make the marine protected areas of the western Indian Ocean the best in the world,” said Dr O’Leary.
Dr O’Leary added that over the last ten years they have created a network called the smart seas network which brings together scientists and MPA managers from all ten countries of the western Indian Ocean and as a network these countries support each other in using the SAM approach within their MPAs.
“This is the first time we have been able to bring together the MPA champions from three countries – Seychelles, Tanzania and Kenya. We did a very competitive application process and we brought together the 30 top performers across all ranks ranking from leaders of the agencies to boat drivers. We are hoping to build the trainees up as peer trainers so they can keep growing this approach within their own countries. After the training each of the trainees will be assigned a mentor which will be one of our eleven experts around the world and every few months they will check in with that mentor to assess their progress,” said Dr O’Leary.
The training is being delivered by experts from Kenya, the United States of America and the Seychelles, with regional experience in strategic marine park management and covered setting goals and objectives, marine monitoring protocols, socio-economic monitoring, and planning and assessing impact of conservation actions.
On his part SNPA’s chief executive, Selby Remy, added that “the programme will help the marine park staff as it will give them the necessary baggage to take part in decision-making and better manage protected areas”.
He noted that the training will serve to equip the trainers with knowledge for them to pass it along to their peers.
This course was a follow-up course from the one held in August 2018, which was also facilitated by Dr O’Leary, who was one of the facilitators for the 2017 edition as well.
At the end of the workshop, participants from each agency planned steps to be taken over the next year to improve marine management at all marine parks.
With the resulting strategic partnerships, professionalism, passion and a shared vision as drivers of the new adaptive management strategy, SNPA aims to be a regional model in effective marine park management.