The Marine Conservation Institute, in partnership with the Waitt Foundation, has developed an online digital atlas that assembles key information on marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world.
Overfishing is increasingly common and marine biodiversity is declining. MPAs are an essential tool to halt and reverse the oceans’ downward trajectory. Scientists have repeatedly shown that MPAs rapidly increase the biomass and diversity of species in both tropical and temperate ecosystems. These benefits have motivated a number of nations to set goals for establishing MPAs that cover a portion of their ocean territories, and international bodies are working to establish MPAs on the high seas.
Currently, only about 1.6% of the world’s oceans are in MPAs; far less than the 12% of land area that is protected. Of the world’s MPAs, only a small fraction—less than half—are in areas designated as no-take marine reserves, places where fishing is prohibited and all marine life is protected from exploitation. The vast majority of the ocean area that is in no-take MPAs exists in a few very large areas that are far from coasts and not necessarily representative of the oceans’ biodiversity. Many marine ecosystems are currently not protected and others are vastly underrepresented in existing MPAs. Clearly we have a long way to go in order to adequately protect ocean life and ensure abundance in the years, decades and centuries to come.
The MPAtlas.com is an interactive online compilation of key information on the world’s MPAs. Atlas users will be able to locate and learn about individual MPAs. Additionally, the project will compile and synthesize information to help users understand the level of protection, biodiversity, biomass, size and management authorities of MPAs. The website will describe country- and regional-level progress towards implementing MPAs and allow users to obtain information on the distribution of MPAs relative to social, political, and ecological contexts. The MPAtlas.com will benefit students and educators looking for general information, as well as managers and scientists needing up-to-date facts and analysis. This site will engage user groups, managers and conservationists, and provide needed information and tools to the MPA community that will help advance marine conservation and facilitate analysis of future MPA opportunities. We welcome your participation and comments as we develop this tool.
About Marine Conservation Institute:
The Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) is dedicated to saving our living oceans. They work with scientists, politicians, government officials and other organizations around the world to protect essential ocean places and the wild species in them.
Their goal is maintaining and recovering bountiful, diverse and healthy oceans now and for generations to come. MCI identifies the most important and vulnerable ocean ecosystems, then advocates for protecting them. They identify key threats to places in the sea and then offer workable solutions to solve problems. MCI bases all of their efforts on the latest understanding of marine science.