Marine Protected Areas

resilient mpas

Effective management of marine resources requires a wide range of tools and methods, and MPAs are a critical management tool. Photo © S.Kilarski

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a critical management tool to support reef resilience by addressing local stressors.

An MPA is defined as a “clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.” ref

MPAs can help to:

  • Manage overfishing (e.g., herbivores)
  • Control threats such as sedimentation and pollution, thus helping to support coral health and making corals better able to cope with climate change impacts

MPAs are most effective when combined with broader management frameworks such as integrated coastal management to address threats originating outside of the MPA boundary (e.g., land-based threats such as pollution and sedimentation).

Increasingly, resilient networks of MPAs are being implemented to increase conservation benefits across broader areas and to spread the risks of potential loss of biodiversity in any one area. The scaling up from individual MPAs to resilient MPA networks allows for the protection of species and habitats, in addition to the maintenance of ecological processes, structure, and function.

Read about co-management approaches such as locally managed marine areas and marine conservation agreements.


Banner Photo © Jason Houston

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