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Help Us Grow the Database

The team at Marine Conservation Institute's Marine Protection Atlas ( has been a leader in reporting the likely biodiversity benefits of MPAs counted towards global targets. Our team has created a data portal that walks users through the framework for assessing marine protected areas. With more than 18,000 MPAs officially reported we need help expanding our database. Users can request an account and apply The MPA Guide framework to MPAs they wish to evaluate. The data portal steps researchers through the Stage of Establishment and Level of Protection decision trees. It also allows users to link the assessment to existing geospatial data in the World Database of Protected Areas or the Marine Protection Atlas. Users can also upload missing geometries to the data portal.

Please contact our team at for more information on creating a profile and getting started with the MPAtlas data portal tool.

Why The MPA Guide?

MPAs exist all over the world, but they are not all the same. MPAs can differ in many ways, including by size, how the area is established, the types and extent of activities that are allowed, and who manages the area. Even a single MPA can contain a variety of different zones where different activities are allowed. Some MPAs are operational, and their management is active, while others only exist on paper. All these factors influence what outcomes the MPA will produce for nature and people. Many MPAs are not designed or functioning in a manner to achieve their stated goals. These inconsistencies and differences lead to confusion about how much of the ocean is actually "protected", and what outcomes to expect from that protection. To provide clarity and help answer these questions, The MPA Guide provides a common language, shared understanding, clear definitions, and expected outcomes to bring transparency and clarity to MPAs.

How to use The MPA Guide

Do you see MPAs missing from our database?  MPAtlas welcomes data submitted by managers, researchers, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and others who wish to use our tool to step through The MPA Guide framework. There are a number of materials created to help prospective users begin to assess MPAs they wish to apply the framework to. We recommend beginning with the User Manual and Expanded Guidance documents below.

Click here to explore case studies from The MPA Guide paper*

*Grorud-Colvert, Kirsten, Jenna Sullivan-Stack, Callum Roberts, Vanessa Constant, Barbara Horta, Elizabeth P Pike, Naomi Kingston, et al. The MPA Guide: A framework to achieve global goals for the ocean. Science 373, eabf0861 (2021). DOI:10.1126/science.abf0861