Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), are crucial to the conservation of marine biodiversity in our oceans for several reasons. They act as a safeguard for biodiversity and the health of marine ecosystems by acting as a sanctuary for various species to mature, reproduce and help restore healthy populations within and beyond their borders. They also help build resilience against looming threats, including the most pressing one at the moment: climate change.
The MPA Atlas, started by the Marine Conservation Institute, allows you to navigate the various protected, and proposed, marine protected zones around the globe. The Marine Conservation Institute has been working in the fight to save marine life for over 25 years and is armed with an expansive network of scientists and marine biologists to advocate for conservation in times of need. The institute has also developed the best practices for managing MPAs.
Establishing MPAs are not just about conserving any and all marine areas- it is about careful consideration of specific zones based on a variety of factors. It is essential that we take into consideration where zones are located and what kind of marine life exists in these zones to determine the feasibility of saving them. The MPA Atlas acts as a directional tool where the public is granted access to visual representations of MPAs worldwide. In India alone, there are 31 MPAs along the coastline (including the Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands) that are officially designated to conserve and protect coastal and marine biodiversity. Furthermore, there are over 100 protected freshwater and terrestrial areas that are protected in India, which do ultimately impact coastal areas.
The MPA Atlas also updates statistics related to how much of our global oceans are protected/semi protected and areas that should be protected. As of March 26, 2021 the current designations are as follows:
- 2.7% of global ocean area- implemented and fully/highly protected zones
- 3.7% – less protected zones
- <1%- designated but unimplemented zones
- 1.4% is in proposed committed zones
Less protected zones are increasingly becoming an issue. Due to unregulated areas, faulty law enforcement and neglect of various designated areas, MPAs are often not as protected or successful as they intend to be. The MPA Atlas helps divide these categorizations in order to establish which areas need more protected vs which areas are already well protected and flourishing.