Protect Planet Ocean
is about
Marine Conservation

Protect Planet Ocean is an initiative by IUCN with the collaboration with UNEP-WCMC
back to the list

Global facts about MPAs and marine reserves

 
- There are around 5000 MPAs designated around the world: explore them all in our iMPA pages
- Together, they cover an area of approximately 2.85 million km2, representing:
- 0.8% of the world's 361 million km2 of ocean,
- 2.0% of the 147 million km2 of ocean under national jurisdiction
- Of the global marine area that is protected, only 300,000km2 - i.e. just under 10% of the global MPA area - is a marine reserve ('no-take' MPA)
 
The graph below illustrates the proportion of the world's oceans that has been included in a marine protected area or reserve since 1900, and how much remains unprotected.
 
Source: Louisa Wood
 
- Most of the global MPA area is contained within 10 MPAs. Together they encompass 74% of the global marine area protected and 80% of the global reserve area. The table below shows information for the world's 10 largest MPAs:
 

Country / location

MPA name

MPA Designation type

Year designated

Total area ('000km2)

Marine area ('000km2)

No-take area ('000km2)

Link

Republic of Kiribati1
Phoenix Islands
Protected Area
2006*
410.5
410.5
0.0
Australia
Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park
1979
344.4
344.4
115.4
USA2
Papahānaumokuākea
Marine National Monument
2000
341.4
341.4
0.0
Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (USA)
Marianas Trench
Marine National Monument
2009
246.6
246.6
0.0
USA
Pacific Remote Islands
Marine National Monument
2009
225.0
225.0
0.0
Australia
Macquarie Island
Marine Park
 1999
162.0
162.0
58.0
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
Galapagos
Marine Reserve
 1996
133.0
133.0
?
Greenland (Denmark)
Greenland
National Park
1974
972.0
110.6
?
Colombia
Seaflower
Marine Protected Area
 2005
65.1
65.0
2.3
Australia Antarctic Territories
Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Marine Reserve
2002
64.6
64.2
64.2
TOTAL
 
 
 
2964.6
2103.1
239.9
 
1Phoenix Islands Protected Area was first designated in 2006 at a size of 184,700km2. It was then enlarged in 2008 to cover 410,500km2.
2Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was first designated in 2000 as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve (by ex-President Bill Clinton). In 2006, the same area was redesignated as a Marine National Monument by ex-President George Bush in 2006. Although it is not yet no-take, the legislation used to redesignated it as a Marine National Monument requires that various habitat damaging activities and all fishing is required to have ceased within 5 years of designation - i.e. by 2011.)

 
- Most MPAs are small: the mean (average) size is 544 km2, but this is heavily skewed by the 10 largest MPAs. -The median area is less than 5km2.
- Marine reserves tend to be even smaller: of 124 marine reserves studied by scientists, half of them were less than 3.75km2 in size.
- Scientific recommendations for minimum size of marine reserves and MPAs range from at least 3km2 to at least -13km2. Only 35-60% of existing MPAs meet these minimum size recommendations.
- The vast majority of MPAs are located along or close to the coast. This means that oceanic and deep-water -habitats are heavily under-represented.
- Around half of the total MPA area is located in the tropics (from 30 degrees north to 30 degrees south)
- Almost 90% of coastal countries have less than 2% of their Exclusive Economic Zone protected. This presents a major challenge to countries meeting marine protection targets on time.

 

Go back to learn more!

 

Sources:
Halpern, B.S. & Warner, R.R. (2003) Matching marine reserve design to reserve objectives. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 270(1527), 1871-1878.
Science of Marine Reserves, Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO)
Shanks, A.L., Grantham, B.A. & Carr, M. (2003) Propagule dispersal distance and the size and spacing of marine reserves. Ecological Applications, 13(1), S159-S169.
Wood, L. J., Fish, L., Laughren, J., Pauly, D. (2008). Assessing progress towards global marine protection targets: shortfalls in information and action. Oryx 42(3): 1-12.
 

Subscribe to our newsletter