The high seas regions of the central Pacific Ocean are those not included in any nation's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The boundaries of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia created pockets of ocean outside of national waters, regulated instead generally by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). These open ocean spaces contain many populations of migratory species, including endangered sharks and sought after tuna, and as a result the area has been named a Hope Spot by Mission Blue.
Unfortunately, high seas areas are notoriously hard to regulate as regulations are complicated and enforcement is difficult. There have been several efforts to protect parts of this region over the last decade, particularly to reduce pressure on overexploited species of tuna. WCPFC closed two "bubbles" of open ocean to purse seine fishing in 2008, but has since removed the regulations. More recent measures have been put into place by provide little protection for these high seas. More effective control over illegal fishing is also needed to ensure that management measures are upheld. The Pew Charitable Trusts is one group actively working towards better protection.
Marine Conservation Institute and the Waitt Foundation provide this
interactive tool to help users visualize the locations and coverage of global
marine protected areas (MPA). This atlas provides information on over 8000 MPAs
globally, drawing on datasets from the
World Database on Protected Areas1,
US MPA Center2,
and other country- and regional-level data authorities, as well as research
conducted by the Marine Conservation Institute.
In addition to MPA boundaries and site management information, this dataset
contains information on conservation measures with a particular focus on those
restricting the exploitation of marine life.
Features on this site are designed to allow users to understand (1) where current
protection exists and at what level, and (2), where important areas for future protection
are and any processes underway to establish MPAs. This provides vital information to
countries and their citizens interested in ocean conservation, management and stewardship.
The dataset is constantly being updated and we welcome visitors to the site to provide
feedback and update content by creating a member account on MPAtlas today.