Introduction to Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Management Training Course held at De Hoop

Delegates at the MPA training course

As part of the on-going commitment towards capacity development of our MPA personnel, DEA: Oceans & Coasts and the WWF Honda Marine Parks Programme partnered to roll out a five day introductory course in MPA Management. The training course was held from 6-10 May at the Potberg Education Centre within the De Hoop Marine Protected Area and attracted 20 attendees from the Northern Cape, CapeNature and South African National Parks.

Dr Peter Fielding and Mr Lawrence Sisitka led the five day contact session which also included a tough written assessment. What made this course particularly successful was the fairly wide range in age, skills, education, and experience and this encouraged dialogue between the attendees from the different MPAs. Group work further encouraged the building of relationships and networks between different management agencies, and between management agencies and community groups.

Attendees on a brief field trip to check out the rocky and sandy ecosystems at work

Guest presentations were made by Mr Siyabonga Dlulisa, from the Oceans and Coasts Directorate of the DEA, with responsibility for MPAs, who gave an overview of the department’s strategy for MPAs in South Africa, and Mr Pete Chadwick, Manager, Integrated Ocean Management: WWF-SA, who gave a superbly illustrated presentation on the state of MPAs around our coastline.  Both presentations were well received, despite some contentious issues raised by the former, and some sobering facts shared by the latter. Lawrence Sisitka also presented an overview of the WIO-COMPAS MPA Professional Certification Programme, and several course participants were clearly interested in certification.

To break the monotony of the classroom, a field trip to the rocky and sandy beach coastline of the MPA was arranged and this coincided with a spring low tide. This helped to put the theoretical knowledge gained into practical understanding and interesting background and contextual input was provided by Peter Chadwick (past Reserve manager) and information on the functioning of rocky and sandy shore ecosystems was provided by a local marine guide Dalfrenzo Laing (who had been included in the course as a participant) and the project executant.

Attendees found the course to be of great benefit to their overall MPA education

The training course will hopefully be offered at other venues and by other management authorities in the near future. There is clearly a need and demand for further roll-out of this course, and perhaps an extended version of it.  The MPA training course provides a valuable stepping stone to the WIO-COMPAS certification and a career in MPA management.