One of the most effective ways of protecting marine and coastal biodiversity is through the establishment and proper management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, is “any area of intertidal or sub-tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment."

The success of an MPA will hinge on good science (protecting what needs to be protected), good laws and policies (government commitment), good stakeholder engagement, as well as monitoring and enforcement.

Barbados and Seychelles have stepped forward to champion the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on MPAs. The country has been making significant progress at national and regional levels in establishing and managing their own MPAs, under different management responsibilities, ranging from the Seychelles National Parks Authority, the Environment Department under the Ministry responsible for Environment and local NGOs. Through an ongoing Marine Spatial Planning exercise, the country hopes to set aside 30% of its exclusive economic zone as protected areas.

The Seychelles government feels it can share its experience and knowledge with other Commonwealth countries, continue to progress knowledge through learning from others’ experiences, and also identify and develop innovative technical and financial approaches for the effective management of MPAs.

Commonwealth countries are responsible for nearly 30% of all MPAs globally, including nearly 300,000 km2 in fully or highly protected areas.

Objectives of Action Group

  1. To establish a network for exchange of experiences, expertise and information amongst Commonwealth countries;
  2. To promote the need for establishment of new MPAs and expansion of existing MPAs;
  3. To identify, test, and promote good practices in the effective management of MPAs;
  4. To work with potential partners to build and strengthen capacity and institutional frameworks and arrangements managing MPAs; and
  5. To create education and awareness on the subject of MPAs across all sectors of society, from children to the general public.

The Action Group will promote new and ongoing approaches, efforts, programmes and projects that support the establishment and management of MPAs in member countries in line with international and national commitments.