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Marine Conservation

Protect Planet Ocean is an initiative by IUCN with the collaboration with UNEP-WCMC
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What are Marine Reserves?


St. Kilda, Scottish Natural Heritage
St. Kilda, Scottish Natural Heritage

Marine Reserves are a special type of marine protected area. They are fully and permanently protected from activities that remove animals or plants, or that alter habitats, except as needed for scientific monitoring.


They are often called a 'no-take' MPA.


Examples of prohibited activities in marine reserves are fishing, aquaculture, dredging, and mining. In contrast, activities such as swimming, boating, and scuba diving are usually allowed.


Marine reserves differ from other kinds of MPAs, which typically exclude only some extractive activities or which provide seasonal or short-term protection. Because marine reserves fully protect habitats and the diversity of animals and plants that live in those habitats, they can help produce different outcomes from other management tools. However, reserves alone cannot address problems such as pollution, climate change, or overfishing. Other management strategies are needed to complement marine reserves, and it is important to understand the effects of marine reserves as well as how to implement them more effectively.


Scientific evidence shows that marine reserves usually boost the abundance, diversity, and size of marine species living within their borders. Marine reserves may also be able to replenish fished areas when young and adult fish move out of the reserve. The Science of Marine Reserves Project has compiled the latest scientific information about reserves into an understandable and accessible format.


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