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Delivering technical assistance on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Maldives

UPDATE January 2023: The final version of the Protected Area Management Effectiveness Evaluations for three sites in the Maldives report was published in January 2023. More details about this report are available in Section 2.2: PAME evaluations for three marine sites in the Maldives.

The Republic of Maldives is known for its rich marine environment, home to habitats including mangrove, seagrasses and coral reefs. These habitats are integral to Maldives’ two major industries of fisheries and tourism, and provide food security, employment, foreign income, and recreation.

The Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP) has been invited to collaborate with the Government of the Maldives to explore opportunities to support effective management of their marine environment. The partnership is providing demand-led technical assistance to provide support for the Maldives Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, with an emphasis on improving governance and stewardship, and alleviating poverty through supporting jobs in sustainable tourism.

Introduction

Working in partnership with the Maldives Government, the OCPP will be undertaking a number of activities including Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PAME) assessments, stakeholder mapping and technical assistance in furthering Marine Protected Area (MPA) compliance, monitoring and enforcement strategies. Details of activities will be listed below as they develop.

The OCPP work in the Maldives is being supported in the UK by experts from JNCC, the Marine Management Organisation and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Cefas). If you have any questions about this work, please get in touch.

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Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PAME)

There are a number of MPAs in the Maldives, including officially designated sites, informal protected areas, and areas covered by fisheries' measures. To better understand how these protected areas function, Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PAME) assessments can be undertaken to help MPA managers understand how well the MPA is being managed.

 

What is a PAME assessment?

Once a MPA has been designated and a management plan developed, it is important to understand whether the management actions are working and achieving what they set out to do. A PAME assessment helps to measure and understand the impact of management actions on the MPA’s values, and tracks progress towards achievement of the MPA’s goals and objectives. The results of a PAME evaluation will help MPA managers to document achievements, and identify and set new priorities to improve future management and enable effective resource allocation, as part of an adaptive management approach.

Additionally, a PAME assessment can help to build support and trust by sharing information about management achievements with the community and other stakeholders. International reporting on the management of protected areas is also becoming increasingly common. For example, PAME is embedded within the Convention on Biological Diversity and contracting parties are required to report on it. 

A PAME assessment is generally achieved by the assessment of a series of criteria (represented by carefully selected indicators) against agreed objectives or standards. Further details about PAME and examples of frameworks used for assessing management effectiveness can be viewed in Hockings et al. (2006) Evaluating Effectiveness: A Framework for Assessing Management Effectiveness of Protected Areas.

PAME evaluations for three marine sites in the Maldives

In 2021/2022 the OCPP collaborated with the Government of the Maldives to undertake a pilot study to assess the management effectiveness of three different types of marine sites. The aim of this study was to increase understanding on how these sites function, determine how well they are being managed, highlight key success areas, and provide recommendations on how management could be improved.

Stakeholders in discussion at a workshop for Hanifaru Bay MPA in the Maldives. Photo by OCPP

The three sites for the study were chosen based on their different management attributes:

  1. Hanifaru Area as a national Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Maldivian Environment Protection Act (No.4/93) and a core zone of the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with an active management plan.
  2. Kudahuvadhoo Kanduolhi a grouper spawning aggregation site regulated under the Fisheries Act of the Maldives (No.14/2019) as a fisheries protection measure.
  3. Angsana Velavaru house reef as a ‘no take’ site under the Tourism Boundary Regulation (No.2012/R-7) and a potential candidate for designation as an Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure (OECM).

The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool, version 4 (METT-4) was used to evaluate PAME for each site using a combination of stakeholder workshops and questionnaires (Assessing the Management Effectiveness of three sites in the Maldives: Stakeholder Survey Results), literature and expert opinion.

The results for each assessment have been summarised in a final report entitled Report of Protected Area Management Effectiveness Evaluations for three sites in the Maldives. The report also provides a detailed step by step guide on the methodology used and recommendations to improve management effectiveness both for the individual sites assessed and for MPAs across the Maldives.

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Ocean Country Partnership Programme

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