An initiative of Marine Conservation Institute

Very Large MPAs

There is accelerating momentum and opportunity for designating very large marine protected areas. A very large percentage of MPAs are tiny - nearly 50% are smaller than 10 sq km. Both small and large MPAs can export adult or larvae marine species and be useful for human fisheries (by supplementing populations in surrounding areas), but MPAs are less useful for biodiversity if the animals they export suffer significant fishing mortality. MPAs that can reduce mortality and protect critical life history phases where they occur are much more effective than those that do not.

Research suggests large MPAs are much more cost-effective to implement and manage compared to smaller MPAs (McCrea-Stroub et al 2010), and in general larger areas will provide better protection from activities that occur outside the MPA. However, it is important to note that small and well managed MPAs can still achieve important conservation benefits. A growing number of large MPAs cover the oceans of many countries and high seas areas protecting diverse pelagic ecosystems, offshore seamounts, and ocean trenches, including the recently designated St Helena Marine Protected Zone in the UK and Easter Island Marine Park.

 

Year Designated

Name

Size

Nation or Authority

(2012) Marae Moana* 1,800,000 sq km Cook Islands

(2016)

Ross Sea Protected Area*

1,549,000 sq km

CCAMLR

2016

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

1,508,870 sq km

United States

(2014)

Natural Park of the Coral Sea (New Caledonia)*

1,368,806 sq km

France

2014

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

1,270,000 sq km

United States

2012

South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area

1,000,700 sq km

United Kingdom

(2012)

Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve*

989,842 sq km

Australia

2015

Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve

834,334 sq km

United Kingdom

2010

Chagos (British Indian Ocean Territory) MPA

640,000 sq km

United Kingdom

(2015)

Easter Island Marine Park*

631,368  sq km

Chile

(2015)

Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary*

620,000 sq km

New Zealand

(2016)

Pacífico Mexicano Profundo*

577,800 sq km

Mexico

2015

Palau National Marine Sanctuary

500,000 sq km

Palau

2016

St Helena Marine Protection Zone

445,000 sq km

United Kingdom

2006

Phoenix Islands Protected Area

408,250 sq km

Kiribati

1975

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

345,000 sq km

Australia

2015

Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park

297,518 sq km

Chile

(2012)

South-west Corner Commonwealth Marine Reserve*

271,898 sq km

Australia

2009

Marianas Trench Marine National Monument

246,608 sq km

United States

(2012)

Norfolk Commonwealth Marine Reserve*

188,433 sq km

Australia

2009

Prince Edward Islands MPA

180,000 sq km

South Africa

2010

Charlie Gibbs North High Seas MPA

178,651 sq km

OSPAR

1999

Macquarie Island Marine Reserve

162,000 sq km

Australia

2010

Motu Motiro Hiva MPA

150,000 sq km

Chile

(2012)

Argo-Rowley Terrace Commonwealth Marine Reserve*

146,099 sq km

Australia

2010

Charlie Gibbs South High Seas MPA

145,420 sq km

OSPAR

1998

Galapagos Marine Reserve

133,000 sq km

Ecuador

(2012)

Lord Howe Commonwealth Marine Reserve*

110,149 sq km

Australia

BOLD - designated and implemented

* Officially designated, but not yet implemented

**Establishment of the MPA was ruled illegal by a UN tribunal in March 2015. Status uncertain.