IMMAs are identified through an expert-led process involving the collation and assessment of evidence against a set of selection criteria. This process (please refer to the Table at the end of this page), lasting approximately 10 months, aims to engage a wide range of representatives within the marine mammal science and conservation communities where much of the evidence necessary to assess IMMAs is held. Experts are selected based on their region-specific knowledge, experience and skills relevant to the task of weighing evidence and applying the IMMA selection criteria. Potential sources of information are actively sought in a process engaging with experts and other holders of evidence on a region-by-region basis. A five-stage process under the auspices of the Task Force is used to identify, review, and accept or reject IMMA nominations, as follows:
Stage 1 – Workshop preparation
The first stage, lasting about five months, is dedicated to the preparation of the expert workshop and includes the delimitation of the region, the preparation of maps, the identification of experts, the selection of the venue and of the workshop dates, the soliciting of submission of Areas of Interest (AoI) by the scientific community at large, and the collation of the submitted AoI and of an inventory of the available knowledge of marine mammal habitat in the considered region.
Stage 2 – Workshop delivery
The workshop itself – the second stage – takes place during the 5th month, lasts five days, and is typically attended by 25-30 experts, tasked to examine the submitted AoI (which can also be contributed by the convened experts during the workshop), and convert the AoI fulfilling the IMMA Criteria and supported by adequate evidence into candidate IMMAs (cIMMAs).
Stage 3 – Candidate IMMA review
The third stage, lasting three months, consists in the submission of the cIMMAs to an independent Review Panel nominated by the MMPATF. The Panel selects the cIMMAs that meet the Criteria and that rest on robust science, converting them in IMMAs. cIMMAs that need further revision, as well as AoI that could not be converted into cIMMAs, will be resubmitted at a successive workshop in the same region.
Stage 4 – Reporting and communication
During Stage 4, spread out of the final four months of the period, the workshop report is drafted and issued (=posted on this website) in a preliminary version; after the results from the Review Panel become available, a final version incorporating such results is posted in substitution of the preliminary version. Corresponding news releases are also issued, and posted on the Task Force website and on social media.
Stage 5 – e-Atlas population
The final stage of the process involves the population of the e-Atlas with the new IMMas, cIMMAs and AoI, and occupies the final two months of the process. Individual IMMA portfolio pages are created on the website, together with summaries of key information on every individual IMMA, and information on how to obtain corresponding GIS layers. Finally, detailed fact sheets are completed for each IMMA, and posted on the website for download as PDF.
Stages of regional IMMA identification process
1. Workshop preparation
a) Region (including sub-region) delimitation;
b) Identification of experts;
c) Date and venue selection;
d) Circulation and follow-up of Area of Interest (AoI) submission form;
e) Preparation and circulation of AoI Report;
f) Circulation and follow-up of Inventory of knowledge survey form;
g) Preparation and circulation of Inventory of knowledge;
h) Sending and follow-up of Save the Date and invitations and background materials.
i) Flights, visas and accommodation arrangements.
1 – 5
workshop announced and ready in all its aspects (venue, budget, final list of participants, flights booked, documentation circulated, received and elaborated)
critical mass of invitees have accepted and are confirmed
2. Workshop delivery
a) workshop delivered and concluded with formal identification of cIMMAs and AoI.
b) cIMMA review templates filled in as appropriate
(the workshop itself is scheduled to last 5 days)
workshop delivered and concluded with formal identification of cIMMAs and AoI
cIMMA review templates filled in as appropriate.
3. cIMMA review
a) review templates revised prior to submission to Panel
b) revised templates submitted to Panel
c) feedback and necessary amendments required by cIMMA points of contact
6 – 8
cIMMA review process concluded
4. Reporting and communication
a) workshop report written and issued in preliminary version
b) workshop report in final version
c) Prepare and issue news release, FaceBook and Twitter posts; Marmam and other announcements
d) Follow-up assessment (2-5 page outline of ideas for IMMAs in the region, with input from MMPA Task Force and Workshop participants)
6 – 10
report completed and posted online, activities communicated
5. e-Atlas population
a) e-Atlas populated by IMMAs, cIMMAs, AoI
b) Individual IMMA portfolio pages created on website with summary of IMMA Key Info and download options for GIS layer
c) Detailed fact sheets (to satisfaction of IMMA point of contact) completed and posted online