Featured Picture: 2019 Blue Park Awardees.
By Christina Hoenow, Blue Parks Intern
If you have followed our work here at Marine Conservation Institute, you will know that we are incredibly proud of our Blue Parks. You may have wondered how exactly these Blue Parks become Blue Parks.
What are the Blue Park Awards?
The Blue Park Awards are part of an initiative to safeguard marine biodiversity by assembling a strategic network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that represent all marine habitats in each biogeographic region. The awards serve as an incentive for governments, managers and partner organizations to ensure their MPAs meet science-based standards for effectiveness. Since 2017 we have awarded sixteen MPAs around the world. These Blue Parks include MPAs ranging from the massive and incredibly well known Reserva Marina de Galàpagos, which spans 138,000 km2, to the tiny Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary, which covers 0.7 km2.
Together, we can recognize all of the effective MPAs around the globe! To identify outstanding MPAs, we rely on nominations from MPA staff members, scientists who work within MPAs, partner NGOs and other individuals associated with MPAs. If you are involved with an MPA that you believe meets the Blue Park Award criteria, available here for review, then please think about nominating them for a 2020 Blue Park Award! Once an MPA is nominated, it is evaluated by the Blue Parks team, and an extensive evaluation report is drafted. Then, the evaluation report along with all supporting documents are assigned to the appropriate members of our Science Council – these experts from around the world make the award decisions.
How do I nominate an MPA?
The nomination process involves answering questions about the MPA, including questions about size, biodiversity value, management, regulations and enforcement. We also ask that you submit official documentation of the ecosystems, biodiversity, endangered and endemic species in the MPA, including maps, monitoring reports and scientific papers. Finally, we also need documentation of MPA regulations, management plans and enforcement plans. The nomination process should take approximately 30 minutes, if you have already gathered the management plans and any other documents to upload. We encourage you to review the nomination questions prior to starting the process. The 2020 nomination period is open until 31 January 2020; if you are ready, click here to nominate an MPA.
Without the nomination of deserving MPAs by individuals like you, we would not be able to carry out this important mission to set a high standard for MPAs and recognize those that are meeting the standard. We truly believe in the power of MPAs to safeguard life in the sea; we have seen the benefits they accrue for wildlife and the communities which are dependent on them.