Science & Management

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a valuable marine conservation tool used around the world. Like national parks and other protected areas on land, MPAs safeguard critical ocean habitat, allowing sensitive marine communities to recover and thrive.

The concept behind MPAs is quite simple: place some special parts of the ocean off limits to destructive activities, and give those special places a chance to recover and rebound.

Benefits of MPAs

  • Preserving Biological Diversity
    Protecting natural diversity and the abundance of marine life is vital to maintaining the function, structure and integrity of ocean ecosystems.
  • Conservation, Sustainability and Protection of Marine Life
    Marine species offer many benefits to their ecosystems, including economic value. Since many depend on a beautiful coastline and healthy fish populations, it is important to sustain existing populations and rebuild the depleted.
  • Protection of Mature and Fecund Species
    MPAs allow fish to mature to larger sizes and increase their reproductive output, helping replenish depleted populations inside and outside MPAS.
  • The Spillover Effect
    As the density or abundance of individuals increases inside a MPA some will move outside the boundaries- or spill over. Through spillover, MPA benefits will not only be seen inside the boundaries, but also exported outside of the MPA.

Change Takes Time…

While MPAs have been shown to increase biomass, diversity and overall health of the ecosystem, these changes take time. While some mature quickly, like sea urchins, others, like tuna, can take years to mature and reproduce. It is crucial to be patient; it may take years for some species to show positive results from MPAs.

MPAs are working, check out the positive trends!

For more information on the science of MPAs, check out the following infographics:

The mission of the California’s Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative is to enhance MPA education through enduring partnerships to empower Californians to protect what they know and love.