Marine protected areas (MPAs) are areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes that have been set aside for conservation purposes. Human activity in these areas is restricted, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Protection takes the form of legal decisions by local, state, regional, national, or even international authorities, and MPAs can differ widely in design and implementation. Common differences include limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on disrupting marine life. In some situations, MPAs can be formed with the aim of boosting local economies by restoring depleted fisheries or increasing eco-tourism.

If you want to know more about the global movement to increase the number of MPAs and reach the global goal of 10% of the ocean being protected by 2020, check out our Top 5 collection.

The Official MPA Blog

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The MPA Blog is part of the Protect Planet Ocean Initiative. It is also the official news outlet of IUCNs World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), a network of experts on MPA management. The aim of the network is to accelerate progress in the international MPA agenda, encourage and develop solutions on MPA through creating standards and guidelines, and increase the visibility and awareness of MPAs. This is where you can get the latest news on what’s happening with MPAs around the world.

The Global Ocean Refuge System, GLORES

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GLORES is a strategy by the Marine Conservation Institute to incentivize decision makers to establish and expand marine protected areas. GLORES incentivizes decision makers to act with the international recognition that follows after a marine area has been given the Global Ocean Refuge status. The ambition is to have businesses, communities, agencies and decision-makers competing to get that Global Ocean Refuge status for their marine protected areas, to see who will have the most and the largest areas in the Global Ocean Refuge System. The ultimate goal is to get 30% of the world’s oceans protected, which is also in line with scientific recommendations. GLORES also works with partners such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to integrate management and monitoring.

For a truly global perspective, check out the MPAtlas,

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a tool developed to provide real-time information on current and proposed MPAs and their effectiveness in protecting marine life. The website was officially released in June 2012 and contains a database and an interactive map. Like GLORES, it was developed by the Marine Conservation Institute to facilitate global work on MPA implementation.

Then try zooming in to The Republic of Palau, an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean and home to some of the most diverse ecosystems of the planet. Palau is one of the leading nations in preserving domestic waters. Over 40 land- and marine-based protected areas are established in Palau, and in 2015 the national government established the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas [http://www.ecowatch.com/palau-creates-one-of-the-worlds-largest-marine-sanctuaries-1882115236.html], designating over 80 percent of the nation’s economic zone as a no-take marine reserve.

The Palau Conservation Society is the nation’s leading conservation organization and has been working with local communities for close to two decades to preserve nature, including terrestrial as well as marine ecosystems. An inspiring case study in the MPA world!

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Finally, for another piece of inspiration — this one at the larger, macro-regional scale — check out the Coral Triangle Center (CTC).

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This is an Indonesian NGO based in Bali. CTC works on the regional conservation of marine biodiversity and the management of marine and coastal resources. The Center also works with two MPA sites, Nusa Penida and the Banda Islands, where they support government, community groups and local organizations to design, develop and establish sustainable bottom-up management of the MPAs. CTC is a partner of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral reefs, Fisheries and Food security (CTI-CFF), in which Indonesia and five other countries collaborate towards a sustainable development for the Coral triangle – the most biodiverse marine region on the planet.

by Björn Eriksson