Protect Planet Ocean
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Marine Conservation

Protect Planet Ocean is an initiative by IUCN with the collaboration with UNEP-WCMC
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Aquatic Protected Area

A marine protected area consisting of freshwater resources.



Pertaining to the environment of the sea floor or lake bottom and adjacent waters, and the organisms that reside there.



The species number, variety, and essential interdependence of all living things. Includes the number and variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, the communities and ecosystems in which they occur, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning.


Coral Reefs

Large living structures of calcium carbonate produced primarily by coral polyps. Polyps are tiny animals that build and surround themselves with an outer skeleton of calcium carbonate. Over time, repeated deposition of these skeletons form the rocklike structure of the reef. Coral reefs can range in size from a few feet to thousands of miles.


Cultural Heritage

The cultural resources that reflect a nation’s maritime history and traditional cultural connections to the sea, as well as the uses and values they provide to this and future generations.


Cultural Resource

A tangible entity that is valued by or significantly representative of a culture, or that contains significant information about a culture.


De Facto MPA

Delineated areas of the marine environment where human access is restricted or where specific activities or uses are regulated for reasons other than conservation or natural or cultural resource management.



A community of organisms (animals, plants, and micro-organisms), including humans, interacting with each other and their physical environment.



A partially enclosed body of water where saltwater from the sea mixes with freshwater from rivers, streams and creeks. These areas are subject to tidal forces, like the sea, but are sheltered from the full force of ocean winds and waves by the coastline, marshes, and wetlands.


Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

The assertion of jurisdiction under the EEZ (3 nautical miles to 200 miles offshore) provides a basis for each nation’s economic exploration and exploitation, scientific research, and protection of the environment.


Fishery Closure Area

A fishery closed or restricted by a government entity. Such closure prohibits fishing for commercial, recreational, or subsistence purposes.


Geographic Information System (GIS)

A system of hardware, software, and procedures designed to support the capture, management, manipulation, analysis, modeling, and display of spatially referenced data for solving complex planning and management problems.



The place and its associated environmental conditions where an organism naturally lives, grows, and reproduces; such conditions include characteristics of the soil, water, and biologic community (for example, other plants and animals).



Refers to the environment between high and low tides (mean high water and mean low water) that is alternately exposed to the air and to the sea.



The shore of a lake.


Local Government

A legally-established unit of government at a level below state or territory government, including but not limited to, county, city, town, or village.


Management/Managing Agency or Authority

The federal, state, commonwealth, territorial, local, or tribal entity or entities with legal authority to designate, promulgate regulations for, and/or manage an MPA. In many cases, authority lies with one agency or program, however, in certain instances, authority is formally shared or split among two or more entities.


Marine Protected Area

Any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment.


Marine Resource Areas

Broad or multiple geographic areas defined by an underlying, mapped marine resource that is afforded some degree of protection through state laws, regulations, or policies.


Marine Reserve

Areas in which some or all extractive activities are prohibited.


Multiple-Use MPAs

Often employed over larger areas, multiple-use areas allow for integrated management of complete marine ecosystems, usually through a zoning process.


National System of MPAs

An assemblage of MPA sites, systems, and networks established and managed by federal, state, tribal, or local governments that collectively work together at the regional and national level to achieve common objectives for conserving a nation’s important natural and cultural resources.


Natural Science

The sciences involved in the study of the physical world and its phenomena.


Network of MPAs

A set of discrete MPAs within a region or ecosystem that are connected through complementary purposes and synergistic protections. A network of MPAs could focus on ecosystem processes, certain individual marine species, or cultural resources. For example, an ecological network of MPAs could be connected through dispersal of reproductive stages or movement of juveniles and adults.


No-Take Zones

Areas in which all extractive activities are prohibited.



Pertaining to the open ocean and organisms living within it, including highly migratory fishes such as swordfish, tuna, and many species of shark.


Place-Based Management

A conservation or management regime that includes a legally-defined area with greater regulation or statutory law applying inside its boundaries than outside.



Sites that have existing laws or regulations that are designed and applied to afford the site with increased protection for part or all of the natural and submerged cultural resources therein for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing the long-term conservation of these resources, beyond any general protections that apply outside the site.


Recreation Area

An area that allows for recreational fishing, diving, boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities. Recreation areas can be zoned within multiple-use MPAs, or occur outside of MPAs.


Region or Regional

An area inclusive of and determined by participating national system sites and systems that is based on common management interests, similar or linked ecological characteristics, and/or other factors that provide a foundation for meaningful coordination.



The coastline of a sea or ocean, including the ground between the ordinary high water and low water marks.


Social Science

The branch of science that studies society and the relationships of individuals within a society.



Individuals, groups of individuals, organizations, or political entities interest in and/or affected by the outcome of management decisions. Stakeholders may also be individuals, groups, or other entities that are likely to have an effect on the outcome of management decisions. Members of the public also may be considered stakeholders.



Careful and responsible management to ensure that goals and objectives are being achieved for the benefit of current and future generations.



A marine or estuarine environment that lies below mean low water; always (or almost always) submerged in a tidally-influenced area.


Sustainable Production

The renewable living resources and their habitats, including, but not limited to, spawning, mating, and nursery grounds, and areas established to minimize incidental by-catch of species, that are important to the nation’s social, economic, and cultural well-being.



A set of MPAs connected by shared programmatic, administrative, or other organizing principles or purposes. A system of MPAs is not necessarily confined to a specific geographic area, such as a region or ecosystem.



The periodic, rhythmic rise and fall of the sea surface that results from the gravity of the moon and sun acting on the rotating Earth.



The zone between the mean high water and mean low water lines.



A process in which a marine protected area is divided into discrete zones each permitting and regulating specific human activities through conditions such as gear limitations in fishing and waste discharge prohibitions in tourism. In the United States, marine sanctuaries, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and state MPAs are some examples of areas that may be zoned.



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