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Protecting Marine Spaces: Global Targets and Changing Approaches


Protecting Marine Spaces: global targets and changing approaches
Protecting Marine Spaces: global targets and changing approaches. Spalding, M. D., Meliane, I., Milam, A., Fitzgerald, C., and Hale, L. Z.,: Ocean Yearbook, v. 27. pp. 213-248 (2013)

This study — developed in conjunction with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and published in the Ocean Yearbook — assessed the state of ocean protection efforts to date and provides recommendations for how to achieve real success for the future. The authors reviewed 10,280 MPAs, covering 8.3 million square kilometers or 2.3% of the world’s ocean area, and found:

 • A small number of large MPAs are responsible for much of the global growth: The 20 largest MPAs account for 60% of the entire global MPA coverage, with an increasing trend to cover remote and off shore areas.
 • By contrast, in terms of numbers, the majority of MPAs are small and are found in coastal and near-shore waters. Even with these there is a focus on sparsely populated areas. The average MPA is small and most are not effectively managed.
 • MPA coverage is highly variable — while 28 countries have now exceeded 10% coverage of their waters, some 111 are still at less than 1%.

All told, the study found that the world has added 6.6 million square kilometers in MPAs since 2013. But the authors stress that MPA coverage does not equal protection: MPAs can be ineffective due to failures in management or design. A simple numbers-based approach ignores the challenges of effectively designing MPAs to provide the most benefit for marine biodiversity and for people.

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