Editor’s note: The following article is adapted from a piece that appears in the September 2018 issue of Marine Ecosystems and Management (MEAM) newsletter, a sister publication of MPA News.

In 2016, the EBM Tools Network compiled a list of hands-on, online activities for teaching about ecosystem services and ecosystem-based management that has since been updated with several more activities. Recently, a university professor asked the Network if any similar online resources existed for teaching MPA design and management. EBM Tools Network members pooled their collective knowledge again and came up with a list of resources for teaching about MPAs at all educational levels.

To that list, MPA News has added a compilation of in-person training opportunities that are aimed at MPA professionals. The combined list of resources and trainings is below.

We recognize this is not comprehensive. If you would like to add a resource to the list or get contact information for someone involved with a resource, please contact MPA News at mpanews@openchannels.org.

For MPA professionals:

  • NOAA’s International Marine Protected Areas Capacity Building Team (IMPACT) trainings. Run by the US National MPA Center (within NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries), IMPACT has trained thousands of MPA managers in over 40 countries. IMPACT webpage
  • CaMPAM’s Training of Trainers course. This recurring course by the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM) offers lessons on MPA planning, management, and policy to MPA professionals in the Caribbean. Training of Trainers webpage
  • Reef Ecologic’s International Coral Reef Management and Leadership course. Delivered in 2015, 2016, and 2017 to selected coral reef leaders, managers and scientists from the Caribbean, Indian, and Pacific regions. Course webpage
  • Western Indian Ocean Certification of Marine Protected Area Professionals (WIO-COMPAS) program. This program combines training courses, professional development seminars, workplace case studies, mentoring, continuing education, and networking. Participants receive a certification. WIO-COMPAS website
  • MPA management toolkit for MPA professionals. Developed by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Biodiversity Conservation Project, this toolkit features dozens of theme sheets on various management issues, with a focus on the Western Indian Ocean. Toolkit website
  • SMART Seas Programme trainings. Rather than training individuals, this program trains entire agencies in strategic and adaptive MPA management. SMART Seas has operated in the Western Indian Ocean since 2009 and is a national approach in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Seychelles. SMART Seas website  
  • MPA Enforcement International trainings. These trainings, provided by experienced conservation law enforcement professionals, cover all aspects of MPA enforcement, compliance, evidence collection, vessel handling, and more. Trainings website  
  • Curricular materials for 6-week course for MPA professionals. This material was developed by WWF South Africa to train MPA staff. Originally developed for presentation in one-week-per-month intervals over the course of six months, the material has also been modified for use in a 5-day introductory course. For more information, contact Robin Adams of WWF South Africa at radams@wwf.org.za.

For students:

  • 50-minute teaching unit on MPAs for undergraduates. This unit is part of a two- to three-week module on ocean sustainability created for the InTeGrate project. Students review current pressures on ocean ecosystems, learn to define MPAs, and examine marine reserve science. They also conduct a hands-on exercise to map ideal locations for an MPA, considering oceanographic, biological, and sociological factors in their decision-making process. Access the teaching unit.
  • Interactive simulation on marine reserves and local fisheries for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Created by the American Museum of Natural History, this tool allows users to look at how species attributes (such as reproductive rate and mobility), fisheries economics, and reserve design influence short-term fisheries dynamics and longer-term sustainability. The simulation comes with an associated exercise and exercise solutions. Access the simulation. Read a published description of a classroom activity using the simulation.
  • Teaching module on MPAs for advanced undergraduates and graduate students (available in English and French). This module, hosted on the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners website, introduces MPAs, including costs and benefits, relationships to biodiversity and fisheries management, design and implementation, and governance and management issues. An accompanying role-playing exercise allows students to experience the challenges of developing an MPA plan that satisfies diverse users while meeting common objectives. Access the module.
  • Science of Marine Reserves summaries for undergraduates, graduate students, and conservation/management professionals. The Science of Marine Reserves summaries, developed by global experts under the leadership of the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), present scientific information from over 300 recent publications about marine reserves and other MPAs. The data are presented in an engaging and easy-to-understand format, highlighting case studies from diverse places.

For stakeholders and the general public:

  • Multi-player serious game on marine spatial planning for stakeholders, including the planning and implementation of MPAs. Designed to educate stakeholders about complexities and conflicts in MSP processes, this tool includes the planning and implementation of MPAs in an MSP context. The recent introduction of Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) in the MSP Platform game also allows it to account for the short- and long-term ecological impacts of MPAs. Games have been implemented for the North Sea and Firth of Clyde, and a game for the Baltic is under development. Learn more about the game. Read about game usage here and here.
  • 30-minute video on the Cabo Pulmo MPA and other MPAs for general public. In this video from The Economist, viewers join the crew of a vessel on a mission to save the vaquita, one of the most endangered animals on Earth. Issues pertaining to the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park and MPAs in general (e.g., local livelihoods, overfishing, poaching, tourism) are discussed. See the video.
  • MPA Online Learning Program. This free online course explains what MPAs are and how they work, then specifically addresses the history and goals of California’s statewide MPA network. Access the module.

For a combination of audiences: