The last couple of years has raised the visibility of the current state of our seas in the public eye, and culminated with the meeting of the World Parks Congress and the Promise of Sydney, which calls for global no-take reserve coverage of 30%. Today, only 3% of the world’s oceans are protected in marine protected areas, and globally only 1.6% are protected strongly in no-take marine reserves. To see the current levels of promised protection globally, see our table HERE.
With the designation and implementation of these 26 currently proposed MPAs or MPA networks, the global percentage of marine protected areas would rise from its current 3% to 6%. The bulk of this increase would be based on proposed MPAs in Australia, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Antarctica. Encouragingly, many of these expansions are expected to include no-take marine areas. No-take marine reserves would be increased from 1.6% to 2.4% of our seas.
It is important to note that some of these expansion numbers can only be from official proclamations, statements, and expressed plans, rather than on exact proposed boundaries. For example, Palau has stated that they plan to protect 80% of their EEZ, and estimated that area to cover 500,000 km2. However, our calculation based on the percentage produces an estimation of 483,431 km2. While this does not change the overall projected increase by a significant margin, several of these approximations taken together could alter the final outcome.
For the purposes of tracking these promises, we include MPAs that have been designated, but are not yet implemented with a management plan, regulations, or legislation.