Launch of Official MPA Map, a visual tally of global MPA coverage

A new map produced by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) illustrates global MPA coverage, now estimated to be at 2.8% of the world ocean. Taken together the coverage area is larger than continental Europe, but still falls far short of the World Convention on Biological Diversity target of 10% global coverage by 2020.

Launched at IMPAC3, the Official MPA Map can be viewed or downloaded at It is based on the World Database on Protected Areas, which is administered by the WCMC.

The developers of the map say it provides a new level of transparency for tracking progress toward the 10% target. “A key issue for me has been better explaining where the official percentage calculation comes from,” says Dan Laffoley, Vice Chair – Marine for WCPA. “Practitioners can now check which MPAs have been included and give feedback on missing sites, as well as perhaps on areas that they think should not be there.” Versions of the map and their associated statistics over time will be archived as a reference to see the progress in MPA coverage.

Brian MacSharry of WCMC says the map yields some surprising observations. “My first impression was, ‘Wow! Look at where sites are and where sites are not,'” he says. “The map is dominated by a set of large MPAs, particularly those around Australia and New Zealand, as well as other sites in the southern hemisphere (Prince Edward Islands, Chagos, South Georgia). There are also a lot of small sites scattered along coasts, particularly in Europe and North America.”

“The map brings into hard focus that many sites are very, very small,” says Laffoley. “Just a glance at the map shows we still have a long way to go in terms of ensuring a fully representative approach to ocean protection and management.”

For more information:

Dan Laffoley, WCPA – Marine, Email:

Brian MacSharry, WCMC, Cambridge, UK. Email:

Ministerial conference reaffirms global MPA coverage target, need to protect high seas

A ministerial conference immediately followed IMPAC3 and involved 19 ministers of nations representing the world’s oceans. Held on the French island of Corsica, the conference produced a consensus statement reaffirming a commitment to meeting the so-called Aichi Target 11 under the Convention on Biological Diversity – i.e., to establish by 2020 a network of comprehensive and coherent protected marine areas effectively managed and covering at least 10% of the oceans.

The statement also calls “as an emergency” for the protection of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Specifically it calls on the international community to adopt by the end of 2014 the decision of the UN General Assembly allowing for the launch of negotiations on a global agreement for the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity on the high seas.The conference statement (“The Ajaccio Message”) is available at

France announces several new MPA commitments

At the ministerial conference that followed IMPAC3, host nation France announced several new MPA-related commitments:

  • Joint creation, with Monaco, of a trust fund to support the financing and effective management of Mediterranean MPAs;
  • France’s donation over the next two years of more than 20 million Euros (US $27 million) to marine conservation projects worldwide, including in the Mediterranean, West Africa, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, and the Pacific;
  • The forthcoming designation of the Bay of Arcachon Marine Nature Park, located along the Atlantic coast of southwestern France;
  • The launch of a feasibility study on the creation of a marine park around Cape Corsica, on the island of Corsica; and
  • The submission to UNESCO of a joint application with Italy to inscribe both the Strait of Bonifacio International Marine Park and the Maddalena Archipelago National Park, in Sardinia, on the World Heritage List.

31 new “Hope Spots” announced

At IMPAC3, Sylvia Earle, her organization Mission Blue, and IUCN announced 31 new “Hope Spots” worldwide – particular marine sites that warrant special protection for their wildlife or significant underwater features. The sites add to the 19 Hope Spots that Earle proposed in 2009, and which Mission Blue has worked to protect since then. The new Hope Spots are distributed throughout the global ocean from the tropics to the poles. For a map:

Coming up in MPA News: biodiversity offsets, novel financing techniques, and more topics from IMPAC3

MPA News will continue reporting on IMPAC3 outcomes in upcoming issues. Our next issue will examine the topic of biodiversity offsets, as well as how some MPAs are using innovative techniques to generate revenue.