An initiative of Marine Conservation Institute

How much of our ocean is protected?

Today, only 3% of the world’s oceans are protected in implemented and actively managed marine protected areas, and of that only 1% of the ocean is strongly protected in no-take marine reserves.

The Road to 10 Percent & Beyond

But the future is bright. Just by implementing the more than 20 proposed or officially announced marine protected areas and networks, we can protect almost 6% of the ocean. Many proposals include no-take marine reserves, which will cover over 2% of our seas once implemented.


Obama declares Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument, a first in the US Atlantic.

0.1% of US EEZ

0.004% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 12,725 km2
Protection Type: Commercial fishing and resource extraction prohibited. Recreational fishing allowed.
Status: Designated September 2016
Implementation Date: Commercial lobster and red crab fisheries allowed for 7-year interim period (until 2023).

UK EEZ around St Helena declared as marine protection zone.

100% of St Helena EEZ

0.1% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 445,000 km2
Protection Type: Marine protection zone covering entire St Helena EEZ.
Status: Designated September 2016

Pitcairn Marine Reserve now in effect, becomes world's 2nd largest marine protected area.

100% of Pitcairn EEZ

0.2% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 840,000 km2
Protection Type: No-take marine reserve covering entire Pitcairn EEZ with small domestic fishing zone around Pitcairn Island.
Status: Designated September 2016

US expands Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument into world's single largest protected area.

13% of EEZ

0.4% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 1,508,870 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Reserve core (out to 50 nautical miles), Strongly Protected Outer Zone allowing limited cultural subsistence fishing (out to 200 nautical miles)
Status: Designated 2006, Expanded 2016-08-26
Implementation Date: Regulations phased in over by 2019

Russia adds islands and territorial sea of Franz Josef Land to Russian Arctic National Park.

0.8% of EEZ

0.02% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 58,000 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Reserve out to 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit surrounding Franz Josef Land archipelago.
Status: Added to Russian Arctic National Park in August 2016

Palau designates 80% of EEZ in marine sanctuary.

80% of EEZ


Country: PALAU
Protected Area Size: 500,000 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Reserve
Status: Designated 2015-10-22
Implementation Date: Fishing permits phased out over 5 years

Chile announces 100,000 km2 Patagonian marine protected area network.

2.7% of EEZ

0.03% of Ocean

Country: CHILE
Protected Area Size: 100,000 km2
Protection Type: Multi-Use MPAs with No-Take Marine Reserves
Status: Announced @ Our Oceans conference 2015-10-05
Implementation Date: by 2020
Partners: Wildlife Conservation Society, Waitt Foundation

Chile announces 297,000 km2 Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park.

8.1% of EEZ

0.082% of Ocean

Country: CHILE
Protected Area Size: 297,518 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Reserve
Status: Announced @ Our Oceans conference 2015-10-05
Implementation Date: 2015
Partners: Pristine Seas - National Geographic Society, Oceana

Chile pledges to create 600,000 km2 Easter Island Marine Park pending approval of Rapa Nui.

16.2% of EEZ

0.17% of Ocean

Country: CHILE
Protected Area Size: 600,000 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Park surrounding Multi-Use MPA around Rapa Nui
Status: Announced @ Our Oceans conference 2015-10-05
Implementation Date: --
Partners: Pew Ocean Legacy, Bertarelli Foundation

New Zealand announces 620,000 km2 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

15% of EEZ

0.17% of Ocean

Protected Area Size: 620,000 km2
Protection Type: No-Take Marine Reserve
Status: Announced by PM John Key @ UN 2015-09-28
Implementation Date: unknown
Partners: Pew Global Ocean Legacy

Why Marine Protected Areas?

Why MPAs?

Marine protected areas are essential to safeguard biodiversity and to sustain vibrant seas.

Marine protected areas can increase biomass and biodiversity in tropical and temperate ecosystems, as well as serve as insurance policies against the impacts of fishing and other destructive activities. If managed properly, they are an effective way of protecting marine ecosystems along with their cultural and historical heritage for us and future generations.

Learn Why Marine Protected Areas Work

Monuments Under Threat

Marine Conservation Institute denounced the President’s Executive Order to undertake a federal review of land and ocean monuments established by three previous presidents. The new administration’s executive order requiring agencies, like the Department of Interior, to review the last 20 years of presidential monument creation, appears to be a veiled attack on public monuments. MORE...

seastates_us_2016_cover.jpg SeaStates 2016 US: Marine Protection in America's Ocean Areas

Currently US state and territorial waters have 1.76% of their waters in strongly protected MPAs while Federal waters out to 200nm strongly protect 23.85% of this area. It should be noted that if the Pacific Islands are removed from the analysis, our findings reveal that only 1.05% of state waters and 0.01% of federal waters are in strongly protected MPAs.

There has been significant conservation progress in US waters, but most of this has been achieved in our remote, tropical and sub-tropical Pacific waters, while securing strong marine protection for coastal waters of the continental US remains slow. The recent designation of the first marine national monument in Atlantic waters is a historic development and crucial step in the right direction.

Interactive High Seas Map

Created as part of our work with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the High Seas Alliance, check out our interactive map of high seas protection.


The First Meaningful Protection for US Northeast Waters

The designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument protects 4,913 square miles and begins about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod. Although little fishing occurs there now, the designation phases out commercial fishing and prohibits other extractive activities such as mining and drilling.

Regional Progress Report

North America is far from reaching national and international targets for protecting oceans, according to a first-of-its-kind report released on Wednesday.

The Dare to Be Deep report, created by a coalition of NGOs in the US, Canada and Mexico, finds that less than 1% of these countries’ oceans are protected like national parks – with only four years left to reach the 10% protection goal set in the multilateral Biodiversity Convention.

Read more: Dare to be Deep: SeaStates Report on North America Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Explore MPAs

Explore Earth's Marine Protected Areas

  • What is protected where?
  • Find out more about your favorite marine parks and refuges.
  • Determine management jurisdiction and regulations.
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Analyze protection levels.

Marine Protected Area statistics by political or ecological dimensions.

By Nation By Biogeography (coming)

Analyze MPA Protection