Staff training in the management of an MPA is very important, as the skills differ from monitoring and research, law enforcement and compliance to driver, diver and skipper training. First aid, general maintenance, survival skills and communicating effectively with the public and stakeholders is also important, and so is administration, pocket book maintenance, writing reports, issuing fines, writing emails and letters. These skills are all critical to ensure efficient management when managing an MPA.
Skippers training, boat maintenance and care are crucial due to the remote location of most MPAs. General maintenance and emergency repairs often have to be carried out by staff in the field and they should have a sound knowledge of how to do this, therefore this hands-on training is important to the smooth operations of the MPA.
MPAs with educational facilities can also play an important role in tourism and environmental education by the provision of information and training for schools as well as people involved in the tourism industry. The centre’s themselves often provide an attraction for tourists and school groups seeking local knowledge of the area.
Skills required to manage MPAs
Our MPAs require highly skilled staff to ensure proper management. Managing staff, law enforcement, skippering, navigation, scuba diving, patrols, handling vehicles, motor cycles and quad bikes, completing minor maintenance and mechanical repairs in isolated areas, communicating at all levels and environmental crime investigating are just a few of the specialised skills needed.
In South Africa we have highly skilled people managing our MPAs, who are very passionate, educated and focussed on protecting the marine protected areas they manage with limited funds and resources in a very harsh extremely hostile environment.
MPA Management tools
MPAs are areas of ocean that have been identified as important areas that need management and protection for various ecological and site specific reasons. MPA’s have tools that can help them to be better managed and they are;
- Restriction of marine equipment
MPAs can impose restrictions on the use and presence of specific marine equipment like nets, long lines and VMS (Vessel Monitoring Systems) in certain or all areas of an MPA. Regulations can stipulate that if an MPA is a Controlled Zone that allows fishing, all vessels must have a working VMS aboard so that vessels can be monitored. MPAs can also pass a regulation stating that no fishing is allowed or that when a vessel passes through an MPA all fishing or diving gear has to be stowed.
- Management Zones
This is an option that allows activities to be controlled by the spatial allocation of specific areas to certain activities
Quotas are mainly applied towards the fishing sector and include line fish, long line, trawl, rock lobster and abalone. The goal of setting a quota and TAC (Total Allowable Catch) is to leave enough of the resource in the ocean for that resource to regenerate the biomass that was extracted in the form of the quota caught.
Permission can be granted by the government or the MPA management authority via a permit/licence that is issued to a person or a representative group to participate in a particular activity in an MPA. These can be issued based on resource allocation, historical significance, skill sets and other information deemed important enough to warrant the issuing of a permit or license.
- Seasonal Control
MPA management authorities and/or government can implement restrictions if deemed necessary to protect certain fish species, habitats or eliminate a threat by the introduction of a fishing season declared for a time of the year when you are allowed to catch fish and a time of year when you are not allowed to catch fish by allowing that species to spawn in the closed season and thereby ensuring that species can be fished sustainably.