WCPA – Marine is the world's premier network of Marine Protected Area (MPA) expertise.

Our mission is ‘to promote the establishment of a global, representative system of effectively managed and lasting networks of MPAs’.

As part of the World Commission on Protected Areas we work in partnership with IUCN's Global Programme on Protected Areas and IUCN’s Global Marine programme, and have members in many of the countries of the world that border an ocean or sea.

Our roles, through the unique reach, influence, accumulated knowledge and expertise of our members, are:

  • Convening, coordinating and networking, in order to help governments and others to plan, develop and implement MPAs, MPA networks, and the global system, and integrate them with all other sea and coastal uses and maritime sectors;
  • Ensuring better application of the best science, technical and policy advice on MPAs, MPA networks, and the global system;
  • Generating, synthesising and disseminating knowledge on MPAs, often in the form of best practice advice, to a diverse range of players;

Beach panorama, Samoa

Beach panorama, Samoa

Photo: Imène Meliane IUCN



Marine Protected Areas as a priority

A particular concern arises over the lack of protection for marine systems, in both sovereign (or national) and international waters. Less than 1% of the ocean is protected. There has been a worldwide collapse in fisheries and attendant environmental damage and disruption to ecosystem structure and function. There have been many global calls to create many more marine protected areas. The World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Parks Congress, and the Convention on Biological Diversity have all committed to a goal of establishing a global network of marine protected areas by 2012, including on the high seas.

Marine and coastal biodiversity is under increasing stress from intense human pressures, including rapid coastal population growth and development, over-exploitation of commercial and recreational resources, loss of habitat, and land-based sources of pollution. Almost half of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, while about a fifth are over-fished. About 90% of large predatory fish biomass has been lost since pre-industrial times. Approximately 35% of mangrove forests have been lost over the past two decades. At the same time, people around the world are increasingly dependent on these threatened resources for food, tourism, shoreline protection, and numerous other ecological services. As these pressures intensify, marine protected areas are increasingly recognized as a critical management tool to protect, maintain, and restore natural and cultural resources in coastal and marine waters. A network of marine protected areas, elimination of destructive fishing practices, and the implementation of ecosystem-based management could help meet the global goal of maintaining or restoring fisheries stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield no later than 2015.

IUCNMed, Medoffice, UICN, Mediterranean, Shark, Red List, Species, Marine

Blue Shark - Vulnerable

Photo: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch

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Dr Dan Laffoley
  • Dan Laffoley

WCPA Thematic Team Leader for the Marine Biome

Email: danlaffoley@btinternet.com



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