Marine Protected Areas

We are working towards a global network of effectively managed, ecologically representative Marine Protected Areas.
Marine Protected Areas can help secure the livelihoods for some of the world's poorest people. rel=
Marine Protected Areas can help secure the livelihoods for some of the world's poorest people.
© WWF / Tantyo BANGUN
WWF's Global Marine Programme is redressing the current inadequate protection of our oceans and coasts by:

What's the problem?

Only 1.2% of the world’s oceans are protected, and the vast majority of existing marine parks and reserves suffer from little or no effective management. Find out more...

Protection comes under many names

A large number of terms and definitions are used to label marine conservation areas across the world.  

These include marine reserves, fully protected marine areas, no-take zones, marine sanctuaries, ocean sanctuaries, marine parks, locally managed marine areas, to name a few. Many of these have quite different levels of protection, and the range of activities allowed or prohibited within their boundaries varies considerably too.

WWF uses the term Marine Protected Area as an overarching description of:

An area designated to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats, and species, which can contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic, and cultural enrichment.

The benefits offered by MPAs include:
  • Maintaining biodiversity and providing refuges for species
  • Protecting important habitats from damage by destructive fishing practices and other human activities and allowing damaged areas to recover
  • Providing areas where fish are able to spawn and grow to their adult size
  • Increasing fish catches (both size and quantity) in surrounding fishing grounds
  • Building resilience to protect against damaging external impacts, such as climate change
  • Helping to maintain local cultures, economies, and livelihoods which are intricately linked to the marine environment
  • Serving as benchmarks for undisturbed, natural ecosystems, that can be used to measure the effects of human activities in other areas, and thereby help to improve resource management

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