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New Blue Park & Blue Sparks Join the Growing Network of Highest Quality Marine Protected Areas

Featured Picture: 2020 Blue Park Award winner, Abrolhos Marine National Park in Brazil. Photo: Eco360

[Seattle, WA]  Marine Conservation Institute and its international panel of marine science advisors today announced Abrolhos National Marine Park has been designated as the newest Blue Park for achieving the highest science-based standards for marine life protection and management. Abrolhos joins a growing network of 16 Blue Parks around the world designed to protect and regenerate our oceans biodiversity.


Abrolhos (Parque Nacional Marinho dos Abrolhos) is a marine protected area (MPA) in a hotspot for marine wildlife located off the central coast of Brazil. It is home to diverse endemic coral species, the largest South Atlantic breeding population of humpback whales, and at least three threatened sea turtle species. In addition to its unique coral reef ecosystem, the park protects mangroves and other important coastal habitats around offshore islands.

A total of 17 MPAs around the world now hold the prestigious Blue Park Award for meeting the highest science-based standards for marine life protection and management. The Blue Park Award recognizes outstanding efforts by nations, nonprofits, MPA managers, and local stake-holders to effectively protect marine ecosystems now and into the future. The award is given to recognize these astonishing places and their vibrant marine life. It is also intended to motivate other nations to strive for strong and effective MPAs that conserve marine wildlife. Blue Park Awards support international progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11, UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, and the longer-term goal of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

Marine Conservation Institute announced 6 Blue Spark collaborations as well, bringing the total number of sites in the Blue Parks network to 23. These six MPAs—Cabo Pulmo (Mexico), California Seamounts (US), Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (US), Inhambane Bay Community Conservation Network (Mozambique), Namancurá-Burdwood Bank II & Yaganes (Argentina), and Piedra del Viento Sanctuary (Chile)—all reflect significant political and civic interest in improving their marine protections and are on track for becoming tomorrow’s Blue Parks. Marine Conservation Institute collaborates with Blue Spark partners to plan and improve their MPAs, using Blue Parks criteria as the blueprints for a better protected ocean.

Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, said about the awards, “We are excited to see new Blue Park and Blue Spark designations accelerating the protection of the most important places in our oceans.  Our rigorous science-based criteria and a panel of esteemed marine scientists are key to vetting nominees and ensuring that these MPAs provide essential examples of effective regulations and management that provide healthier oceans for us and for marine life around the world.”

Fernando P.M. Repinaldo Filho, Head of Abrolhos Marine National Park, said, “The Ocean drives global ecosystems that make the Earth habitable for all species. For the last 37 years and counting, the Abrolhos Marine National Park staff has worked hard to ensure the protection of a unique and critical area within Brazilian waters. Now, it is an honor to receive the Blue Park Award in recognition of this effort, representing a big step to improve our effectiveness, promote management actions that secure our invaluable resources, and engage the society with the marine conservation cause.”

The six Blue Sparks announced today will become eligible for Blue Park Awards as they mature and develop effective regulations, management, and enforcement. Marine Conservation Institute will help them along the journey.

Blue Spark: Piedra del Viento, Chile

Photo: Eduardo Sorensen

Blue Spark: Inhambane Bay Community Conservation Network, Mozambique

Photo: Ocean Revolution Moçambique

Blue Spark: Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Photo: USFWS

Blue Spark: California Seamounts

Photo: Ocean Exploration Trust

Blue Spark: Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico

Photo: Octavio Aburto

Sarah Hameed, Senior Scientist and Director of the Blue Parks Program said, “I look forward to working closely with our extraordinary Blue Spark partners to achieve new Blue Parks. Individually, Blue Parks and Blue Sparks protect truly unique places, and together they will help safeguard life in the sea.”