Graphic from The MPA Guide illustrating the relationship between the Levels of Protection and Outcomes of marine protected areas.
The MPA Guide: A Framework to Achieve Global Goals for the Ocean provides important guidance about the conservation benefits we can expect from marine protected areas (MPAs) with various Levels of Protection and in various Stages of Establishment. Creating The MPA Guide framework was only the beginning, however; we must now apply the framework gain insight into the likely conservation outcomes of the world’s MPAs.
Since the end of 2020, Marine Conservation Institute has been transitioning the Marine Protection Atlas (mpatlas.org) database from providing an independent verification of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) to delivering a detailed assessment of MPA Stage of Establishment and Level of Protection using The MPA Guide framework. To learn more about our database's transition to more detailed reporting and our role in The MPA Guide, visit "The Evolution of the Marine Protection Atlas and a New Era of Science-based Assessments."
Along with the new database, at mpatlas.org, we’ve created a new interactive map for exploring MPA Guide assessments. MPAtlas allows users to explore details about The MPA Guide assessments for individual MPA zones and to explore maps of assessed MPAs with filtering tools to explore combinations of MPA characteristics.
On the Marine Protection Atlas, each MPA or MPA zone assessed using The MPA Guide framework has a corresponding ‘score card’ that describes its protection level. In addition to the overall protection level for the MPA or zone, you will see a breakdown of the activities that are part of the Protection Level decision tree. This breakdown provides more detail about the regulations and human activities in the MPA that impact its conservation outcomes.
Example of an MPA Guide score card for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (as seen on mpatlas.org).
We are currently working in collaboration with partners to apply The MPA Guide framework to MPAs around the world, and we plan to release subsets of completed assessments regularly over the coming months. For now, to showcase our new tools and viewers, we are releasing a limited series of case-study assessments that reflect the range of Protection Levels and Establishment Stages.
Below are The MPA Guide case studies referenced in The MPA Guide: A Framework to Achieve Global Goals for the Ocean. Click on the provided links to see each site’s information page on the Marine Protection Atlas and more detailed information about its MPA Guide assessment. Note that proposed and designated MPAs are not assigned protection levels because MPAs do not confer protections in the water until they have been implemented. As such, only implemented and actively managed MPAs are assigned a Protection Level.
Location: Queensland, Australia
Stage of Establishment: actively managed
Level of Protection
Preservation Zones: fully protected
Scientific Research Zones: highly protected
Buffer Zones: highly protected
Habitat Protection Zones: lightly protected
Conservation Zones: lightly protected