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 cope 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.
Learn about resilient MPA design.