A Partnership Between


MPAConnect is a learning network of MPA managers and professionals in the Caribbean that works to increase the effectiveness of MPA management by addressing specific capacity needs of individual MPAs through a variety of means, including regional peer to peer workshops, site-specific technical support, learning exchanges and direct grant funding.

Since 2010, this partnership between the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through their Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) has addressed MPA management capacity by building a network of some 30 MPAs from 10 countries and territories in the Wider Caribbean region.

The capacity building initiatives by MPAConnect are founded on a management capacity tool that translates day-to-day management challenges into targeted capacity building approaches to help MPA managers meet conservation commitments. Based on detailed assessments in 2011 and 2017 which apply a specialized tool for facilitated self-evaluation of management capacity by MPA managers, the initiative works to understand and address capacity as related to 20 distinct elements of effective MPA management programs.

The MPAConnect approach to capacity building is to facilitate peer to peer learning in the region by strategically targeting the highest priority management needs identified by managers through the assessment process. To date the partnership has helped MPAs increase their management capacity on top priority needs, while also following up on site-specific management capacity needs and establishing a close-knit network between coral reef MPA managers and organizations with MPA management expertise.

There is much experience to share between Caribbean MPAs. Mentor sites that recorded Tier 3 for capacity in the 2011 MPA management capacity assessment made excellent contributions to building capacity among their peers at the regional peer-to-peer workshops. MPAConnect includes a network of knowledgeable and experienced MPA mentors – regional MPA go-to people who stand ready to share their experience and provide guidance in the face of common challenges to effective MPA management.


Country MPA Site
The Bahamas Andros Barrier Reef National Park Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park South Berry Islands Marine Reserve Moriah Harbour Cay National Park
Belize Port Honduras Marine Reserve Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments South Water Caye Marine Reserve Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve
The British Virgin Islands Hans Creek Fisheries Protected Area Horseshoe Reef Fisheries Protected Area Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park
Grenada Moliniere-Beausejour MPA Sandy Island/Oyster Bed MPA
Honduras Monumento Natural Marino Archipiélago Cayos Cochinos Zona de Protección Especial Marina Sandy Bay-West End Zona de Protección Especial Marina Turtle Harbour-Rock Harbour
Mexico Banco Chinchorro Reserva de la Biósfera Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Xcalak Parque Nacional Costa Occidental de Isla Mujeres Punta Cancún y Punta Nizuc
The Netherlands Caribbean Saba Marine National Park Saba Bank National Park Sint Eustatius Marine National Park
Saint Lucia Point Sable Environmental Protected Area Soufriere Marine Management Area Pitons Management Area
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines South Coast Marine Conservation Area Tobago Cays Marine Park
The Turks and Caicos Islands Columbus Landfall National Park Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park West Caicos Marine National Park
US Virgin Islands St. Croix East End Marine Park

Regional Peer-to-Peer Learning

Since 2012 GCFI and NOAA have implemented a series of regional workshops for peer-to-peer learning, focused on the network’s highest priority management needs – sustainable financing, law enforcement, socio-economic monitoring, outreach/education and bio-physical monitoring.

Peer to Peer I

Sustainable Finance Strategies for MPAs

Peer to Peer II

MPA Enforcement

Peer to Peer III

Socio-Economic Monitoring

Peer to Peer IV

Outreach and Education

Peer to Peer V

Bio-Physical Monitoring

Peer to Peer VI

Fisheries Management

Peer to Peer VII

Sustainable Financing

Peer to Peer VIII

Coming Soon

Follow-up Site-Specific Technical Support

The regional peer-to-peer learning activities have been backed up by site-specific technical support, learning exchanges and regional and international networking opportunities coordinated by MPAConnect. These activities have addressed the desired follow-up identified by participants at the regional workshops to build capacity on the ground at their sites. Site-specific projects have also helped to address other individual capacity building needs of particular MPAs. The following StoryMap details these follow-up projects, many of which have been successfully completed by the participating MPAs, some are currently underway and yet others remain desired by the MPA managers to fill gaps identified in management capacity (potential partners and donors please take special note of the latter!).

A Tool for Prioritizing Capacity Building Needs for Effective MPA Management

The capacity building initiatives by MPAConnect are founded on a management capacity tool that translates day-to-day management challenges into targeted capacity building approaches to help MPA managers meet conservation commitments.

  • MPAConnect is based on a practical, locally-relevant and needs-driven capacity building approach to support effective MPA management.
  • MPAConnect developed a specialized tool that facilitates the self-evaluation of management capacity needs and strengths relating to some 20 distinct elements of MPA management.
  • The MPAConnect capacity tool helps our partnership and participating MPA managers to better understand and address local and regional MPA management capacity needs by guiding strategic peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge between MPA managers in the Caribbean.

In 2011 the partnership undertook the first assessment of Caribbean MPA management capacity using the MPAConnect capacity tool. See the 2011 report for more information.

Six years after the first capacity assessment, in 2017 we invited the members of MPAConnect to review their management capacity and update us on their highest priority needs for capacity building, networking and future support. See the StoryMaps below for the latest findings on MPA management capacity in the Caribbean.

MPAConnect Capacity Assessment Tool


Herramienta de Capacidades MPAConnect


MPAConnect Capacity Tool User Guide


Capacity Assessment Report