Identifying Lessons Learned from 12 Years of Grantmaking to Establish Effective Marine Protected Area Networks in the Gulf of California, Eastern Tropical Pacific, and Indonesia

Grant Application Deadline: 
Friday, October 20, 2017

Submission Due Date: Indication of interest by October 20, 2017 (questions and submissions should be sent to Cheri Recchia at crecchia [at] Proposal by November 3, 2017. A pre-bid conference call will be held October 23, 2017.

General Overview

Networks of effective marine protected areas (MPAs) are viewed by many as an essential tool for protecting and restoring ocean ecosystems. A considerable body of literature suggests that science-based MPAs that are well designed and managed, with adequate levels of compliance with regulations, can improve the health and functioning of habitats, increase sizes and health of populations of fish and other animals, and contribute to sustainable use of marine resources. The literature also points to a number of challenges in establishing effective MPA networks, including limited capacity in the public sector and civil society, enforcement and compliance challenges, and difficulty securing the necessary conditions for long-term success.

The Walton Family Foundation’s Environment Program is winding down long-term efforts to establish effective MPA networks in three regions: Mexico’s Gulf of California (GOC), the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (ETPS, defined as the Pacific waters of Columbia, Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica) and the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) in West Papua, Indonesia.

Circumstances led to very different approaches in the three regions. In the GOC, the Foundation funded several key grantees, including local and large international NGOs, to work on six MPAs ranging from the Upper Gulf to Cabo Pulmo. In the ETPS, the Foundation worked primarily through a large, international NGO, which partnered with a variety of local groups in each country to work on 19 coastal and offshore MPAs (four in each of Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama, and seven in Ecuador). In the BHS, the Foundation worked primarily through three, large international NGOs, with one of the NGOs taking overall lead; these NGOs did most of the on-the-ground work directly, through their local staffs, and focused on 13 MPAs.

This work began approximately 12 years ago and, following a 2016 strategy pivot to focus more directly on improving the sustainability of fisheries, is now being wound down. Current efforts are focused on trying to help put the necessary conditions in place to ensure the long-term effectiveness of these MPAs, including long-term financing mechanisms and, it is hoped, sufficient local capacity and momentum to achieve effective management.

Although the Foundation is not currently considering a renewed focus on MPAs, we are interested in learning as much as possible from this work, and in sharing that information and any resulting recommendations with the field. 

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