Skip to content

Mapping ocean protection, part 2

This is part of an ongoing series of video tutorials exploring the Marine Protection Atlas. Check out the first one here.


What if you could choose a travel destination based not just on how beautiful is, but also on how well-protected it is? What if you had the tools to understand how your local bay or favorite surf break is managed—tools that could help you advocate to improve those protections and save the wild ocean places you love the most? What if a map could show you the way forward?

When it comes to protecting the ocean, momentum is building—from the US commitment to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 to the recent Kunming Declaration signed at the latest UN Convention on Biological Diversity. However, progress has been hindered for a variety of reasons, including confusion about what ‘protection’ means, and lack of clarity regarding the likely conservation outcomes of a particular type of MPA. These issues result in MPAs with minimal protections, misunderstandings about global progress, and arguments that detract attention from the need for meaningful protections.

The Marine Protection Atlas (MPAtlas), aims to provide a nuanced picture of global marine protection. Our primary goal is to identify and track fully and highly protected areas, which have been proven to have the greatest benefit for preserving biodiversity and the accompanying benefits. Using the framework set by The MPA Guide, we aim to clarify, calculate and visualize the level of protection and implementation of the world’s marine protected areas. 

It is an incredible project that continues to evolve—2021 marked a big year of change for the MPAtlas, and our global database continues to grow. The Atlas is fascinating to explore. This tutorial will help guide you through examples from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary so that you can get the most out of this extraordinary interactive tool.

It is important to note that the information on MPAtlas.org is constantly being updated and is dependent on feedback from our community for accuracy. If you are interested in contributing data, feedback, or additional information, we can be reached at info@mpatlas.org.