Marine Protected Area networks
Many marine species live in various habitats throughout their life cycle, and cover huge distances. Many adult fish found on coral reefs, for instance, spent their early years sheltered in a mangrove forest or seagrass meadow. And many open ocean fish migrate thousands of kilometres between their feeding and breeding grounds. The same is true for other marine species, from invertebrates to seabirds to whales.
To balance the needs of people and the marine environment, and to maximize protection benefits, the best solution is often a grouping of smaller MPAs protecting different habitats at various locations within the larger ecosystem.
These Marine Protected Areas can have differing protection status and management structures, and even be in different countries. A group of protected areas like this is called an "ecologically representative network of Marine Protected Areas", or a "representative network of Marine Protected Areas" for short.
If well-designed, the location of Marine Protected Areas in such a network would allow them to support each other by taking advantage of ocean currents, migration routes, and other natural ecological connections. This would help provide much-needed resilience against a range of threats.