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2023 Blue Park Award Winners Announced at 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress

 New Marine Protected Areas Recognized for Outstanding Conservation

Sunday 5 February 2023

Press Kit (map, images, logos, background): 

Contacts listed below 

[Vancouver, Canada, 5 Feb 2023]—Three marine protected areas (MPAs) won prestigious Blue Park Awards for exceptional marine wildlife conservation at the 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5) today. Pitcairn Islands Marine Protected Area (Pitcairn Islands, UK), Cordillera de Coiba Managed Resources Area (Panama), and Tupinambás Ecological Station & Alcatrazes Archipelago Wildlife Refuge (Brazil) join a growing network of 27 awarded Blue Parks around the global ocean that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness. The three new Blue Parks have a total area of 910,516 sq. km (351,552 sq. mi.). Their addition brings the Blue Park systems to a total of 2,744,687 sq. km (1,059,730 sq. mi) of ocean effectively protected in the waters of 22 countries. 

An international council of marine conservation experts, assembled by U.S. NGO Marine Conservation Institute, made the Blue Park Award decisions using criteria based on the science of MPA effectiveness. President of the organization, Dr. Lance Morgan, announced the three new Blue Parks alongside representatives from the Science Council and former Blue Park Award recipients. 

“Congratulations to the 2023 Blue Parks,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute. “These MPAs offer protection to critical marine ecosystems, revitalize ocean health, and benefit the livelihoods and well-being of local communities. We hope other governments and communities look at these outstanding Blue Parks as examples of strong and effective commitments to ocean protection that they could also pursue.” 2 

“Being recognized as a Blue Park alongside the main marine areas in the world is a great honor for us and motivates us to continue facing the challenges of conserving biodiversity and maintaining marine ecosystem services, so essential for the quality of life on the planet,” said Kelen Luciana Leite, Head of Tupinambás Ecological Station & Alcatrazes Archipelago Wildlife Refuge. “For the team, advisors, researchers, volunteers and partners who have engaged in the protection of Alcatrazes, this recognition values the effort of each one and shows us that when we dream together we are unbeatable. We remain hopeful that our units will be more and more effective, managed based on scientific knowledge, and in partnership with the local society, because every time we do our part, nature responds and invigorates itself.” 

“The Blue Parks initiative recognizes outstanding efforts by governments, nonprofit organizations, MPA managers and local communities working to protect ocean wildlife,” said Dr. Sarah Hameed, Director of the Blue Parks Program. “Blue Parks provides a standard for marine protection to ensure that it truly safeguards marine biodiversity. We’re thrilled to welcome new MPAs to the Blue Parks Network.” 

“We are so excited to receive the Blue Park Award. We are a tiny, remote island with a population of under 50 people, so we thought awards went to bigger places. Yet we are making a global contribution and are proud to conserve our ocean biodiversity and pristine waters for everyone. We hope this inspires some of those bigger places to join us!” said Melva Evans, MPA Officer for Pitcairn Islands MPA. 

“It is an honor that Panama is being awarded the Blue Park Award,” said José Victoria, National Director of Protected Areas and Biodiversity of the Ministry of Environment of Panama. “Undoubtedly, this represents recognition of the conservation effort of hundreds of people, including organizations, the scientific community, and civil society, who worked tirelessly to guarantee the protection of these biodiverse ecosystems and promote the development of protection based on scientific standards.” 

The Blue Park Awards are supported by Blue, the Blue Endowment Fund. Each of this year’s Blue Parks receives US $10,000 (platinum level) or US $8,000 (gold level), as well as an etched glass trophy to recognize their achievement. The 2023 Blue Parks join the Blue Parks Network, made up of some of the world’s most outstanding marine protected areas and ocean champions. 

Presented annually since its launch in 2017, Blue Parks now cover nearly 3 million square kilometers of ocean, spanning 22 countries. Marine Conservation Institute’s rigorous science-based criteria and an international panel of esteemed marine scientists are key to vetting and ensuring that these MPAs provide examples of the most effective marine life conservation. 3 

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted in December at the UN Biodiversity Conference, includes a target to protect 30% of marine and coastal areas by 2030 (‘30×30’), and the Blue Parks initiative aims to ensure that as more marine protected areas are created, they effectively contribute to biodiversity conservation. 


About Blue Parks 

Blue Park Awards were established by Marine Conservation Institute to encourage high quality marine protected areas (MPAs) that safeguard marine wildlife, secure critical habitats, promote resilience, and ensure the inspiring beauty of our oceans for future generations. The effort aims to assemble an effective network that sustains marine life and ecosystems globally. As of today, there are 27 marine protected areas that have earned Blue Park Awards. 

In addition to awarding new Blue Parks, Marine Conservation Institute has launched collaborations — Blue Sparks — with groups planning new marine protected areas and upgrading existing marine protected areas in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mozambique to ensure their efforts result in future Blue Parks. 

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute, founded in 1996, works in the U.S. and globally to seek strong protection for at least 30% of the ocean by 2030—for us and future generations. Our focus on protecting the ocean’s most important places follows several lines of work: identifying and advocating for strong marine protected areas; improving laws and other tools to better conserve marine biodiversity; catalyzing effective conservation by recognizing and elevating the best marine protected areas as Blue Parks; and accurately reporting on global conservation efforts with our Marine Protection Atlas ( 

About Blue Endowment Fund 

Blue is a non-profit endowment fund aiming at building a better future through project grants, equity investments and initiative incubation. Blue provides financial grants for effective, efficient and sustainable projects to strengthen resilient marine ecosystems, and sponsors the Blue Park Awards. 4 


Dr. Sarah Hameed, Blue Parks Director & Senior Scientist 

Marine Conservation Institute, USA 

+1 707 242 1997 cell 

Dr. Lance Morgan, President 

Marine Conservation Institute, USA 

+1 707 217 8242 cell 

Jefferson Mendes, Environmental Agent 

Alcatrazes Archipelago Integrated Management Center – ICMBio Alcatrazes 

Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) 

Thais Rodrigues, Environmental Analyst and Deputy Manager 

Alcatrazes Archipelago Integrated Management Center – ICMBio Alcatrazes 

Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) 

Kelen Leite, Head of Tupinambás Ecological Station & Alcatrazes Archipelago Wildlife Refuge 

Alcatrazes Archipelago Integrated Management Center – ICMBio Alcatrazes 

Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) 

Fiona Kilpatrick and Stephen Townsend, Administrators 

Government of Pitcairn Islands 

+64 9 984 0131 

Michele Christian, Division Manager 

Environmental, Conservation & Natural Resources, Government of Pitcairn Islands 

+64 9 984 0153 

Melva Evans, MPA Officer 

Environmental, Conservation & Natural Resources, Government of Pitcairn Islands 5 

Damian Kean, Communications Officer 

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK 

Yelena Rodríguez, Head of the Public Relations 

Office of the Ministry of Environment of Panama 

+507 500 0804 ext. 6804