Educational Managed Marine Areas (EMMA)

Photo credit: The Ocean Agency

First launched in 2013 in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, an Educational Managed Marine Area (EMMA) is a small coastal area that is managed ‘in a participatory manner’ by school pupils and volunteers[1]. This project has a strong education focus; informing younger generations on the importance of conserving the marine environment, and engaging them in this action. EMMA engages both schools and local administrations. Originating in the Marquesas Islands, EMMA is now operational in mainland France and its overseas territories, with Australia and Hawaii also showing great interest.

EMMA is founded upon the principles of ‘understanding, sharing and managing the sea’[2]. These principles are split into three pillars, which are entitled: 1) Knowing the Sea; 2) Experiencing the Sea; and 3) Talking about the Sea[3]. Each school involved in an EMMA has to design and implement their own marine area management project. Activities include the conducting of an ecological survey of a chosen area, carried out by children assisted by scientific teams.

A children’s sea council established by EMMA will discuss the actions that need to be implemented in order to protect their marine area. The council will prescribe educational activities that need to be invested in, to enable further development of learning and understanding. This children’s sea council will act as an official body that can interact with elected officials, professionals and academics; bridging the generational gap, and sharing experiences and information. The long-term goal of EMMA as it grows, is to encourage public involvement in marine conservation. EMMA aims to facilitate a global community network of young people, who all engage in marine protected areas management; sharing tips and learning from each other[4].

[1] SPC Fisheries Newsletter #146 – January–April 2015

[2] Agence Francaise pour la Biodiversite

[3] SPC Fisheries Newsletter #146 – January–April 2015

[4] Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources