Story | 07 Sep, 2017

Global shift in Marine Protected Area analysis and reporting

The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and IUCN have launched the Marine Protected Planet Interactive - the world’s most authoritative and ambitious platform for information about ocean protection. As of September 2017, Marine Protected Areas cover 6.35% of the ocean.

Several large-scale Marine Protected Areas have been announced in recent months. Marine Protected Planet Interactive for the first time tells the story behind the headlines and will help to scale up ambition for global marine conservation. Users can access data about the location and size of protected areas. Further efforts are underway to develop standards in measuring the equity and effectiveness in protected areas management. By combining this information with other datasets, UNEP-WCMC can advise governments and other stakeholders on whether marine protected areas are representing habitats of critical importance. 

Contribution of the Convention on Biological Diversity to Marine Protected Areas       Photo: CBD

Data and insights from the World Database on Protected Areas, the only global database on officially designated protected areas, curated by UNEP-WCMC, has been transformed into this unique dynamic resource. It reveals new layers of information on Marine Protected Areas and will include the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas - the IUCN Green List Standard - which is a new global standard for protected areas. It will also track conservation commitments by countries and track progress towards global biodiversity targets such as Aichi target 11.

This is a new era for reporting on Marine Protected Areas. For the first time anyone can access and interact with a wide range of up to date information about marine protected areas, produced from data compiled through a robust methodology. Our dedicated team of experts collate, analyse and verify information every month and update figures and trends making this the go-to resource in marine conservation” says Brian MacSharry, Data Manager and Senior Programme Manager at UNEP-WCMC.

UNEP-WCMC and IUCN launched the platform at the Fourth International Marine protected Area Congress (IMPAC4), held in La Serena-Coquimbo in Chile from 4-8 September 2017. 


Facts and figures about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs):

  • 23 million km² (or 6.35%) of the ocean are covered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), a ten-fold increase since 2000 when the area covered by MPAs was approximately 2 million km² (or 0.7%) of the Ocean.
  • 14 million km² of MPAs have been added since 2010, driven in a large part by the expansion of existing sites, and creation of very large new sites.
  • The 10 largest sites cover over 50% of the area covered by marine protected areas.
  • Recent accelerated designation of MPAs focused on national waters (39% of the global ocean) – at 0.25% the High Seas are poorly covered by MPAs

For more information, please

IUCN WCPA       Photo: IUCN