November 30, 2012

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With increasing local and global pressures threatening the health of marine environments, Marine Protected Area (MPA) enforcement is becoming more challenging and more important. In an effort to ensure more successful and effective MPAs in the future, earlier this week, representatives from over 36 countries converged in San Francisco.

In a one-of-a-kind conference, MPA managers, conservation organizations and those committed to sustainable development all came together for the 2012 WildAid Global MPA Enforcement Conference. Weak legal framework, poor surveillance capacity, and limited or insufficient budgets are just a few of the ongoing challenges that make proper everyday protection of marine areas difficult. With increasing local and global challenges threatening marine ecosystems the role of government leaders and marine managers is progressively difficult.

Convening in a single location, individuals from around the world collaborated, offering lessons learned and best practices on marine management and protection enforcement. In addition, industry leaders such as Google, Insitu, and Liquid Robotics presented new advances maritime surveillance and mapping technologies.

“We have spent the last 5 years creating an explorable map of the ocean with many partners around the globe,” the manager of the Google Ocean Program, Jenifer Austin Foulkes, told Mission Blue. “Our goal is to have Marine Protected Area managers, policy makers, government officials, non profits and the public be able to use Google’s mapping technologies to plan and communicate about these often remote areas. Through meetings like this WildAid conference, I have had the opportunity to share our ocean map in Google Earth and Maps and demonstrate the many ways it can be harnessed to spread awareness, aid in decision making and potentially be used as a common operating picture for enforcement.”

As conference-goers depart from San Francisco, the hope is that they will be taking with them new appreciation, ideas, and knowledge on how to achieve more successful protection of marine environments going forward.

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