Remote, coastal reefs rich with the colors of a myriad of endemic corals, lush mangrove forests that shelter both juvenile fish from predators and coastal communities from the impacts of climate change, and nutrient-rich subtidal rocky reefs where a diversity of life thrives – these are just a few examples of the awe-inspiring marine ecosystems protected by the world’s 17 awarded Blue Parks. These outstanding marine protected areas (MPAs) are championed by communities, organizations, governments, and individuals that understand the vital role the ocean plays on our planet and the necessary actions to effectively protect it. But how does an MPA become a ‘Blue Park’?
Blue Parks is an initiative of Marine Conservation Institute that aims to incentivize and accelerate effective, science-based marine protection safeguarding at least 30% of every type of marine ecosystem in every region of the global ocean. With a team of scientists and experts, we synthesized the science on MPA effectiveness into a clear, concise set of criteria – essentially a ‘blueprint’ for an MPA that will deliver conservation benefits. MPA managers, partners, or supporters can nominate an MPA for a Blue Park Award on our online platform. Our Blue Parks team evaluates all nominated MPAs and provides a report, along with public comments, to our Science Council, a group of approximately 30 marine scientists from across the globe who decide the award status. MPAs that meet Blue Park standards are awarded and join our network of outstanding ocean leaders.
Blue Park Awards provide much needed recognition to effective MPAs that protect the gorgeous seascapes, abundant life, and critical resources found within the ocean. Blue Park Awards honor communities, nations and international organizations that have made important contributions to protecting and recovering marine biological diversity. In addition to this honor, we work with Blue Parks to attract tourists, support, and investors through communications campaigns. Blue Park status also provides entry into a growing community of MPA managers and experts, bringing together ocean champions who are able to network and consult with one another to even better protect ocean life.
We are preparing for the 2021 Blue Park Awards announcement to be celebrated in a virtual event later this year – stay tuned and follow us on social media (@savingoceans on Instagram and Twitter) for more information! At the same time, we’re also beginning to look towards 2022. Do you know an MPA that deserves recognition as a Blue Park? Please consider nominating an outstanding MPA for a Blue Park Award to honor its strong protection of marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Nominations submitted by the end of October 2021 will be considered for a 2022 Blue Park Award. We’re looking forward to learning about more MPAs and celebrating the world’s most effective ones with you!
To nominate an MPA for a Blue Park Award, please visit https://marine-conservation.org/blueparks/nominate