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 and Rapa Nui Rahui Marine Protected Area.

Year Name Size Nation or Authority
2017 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 MPA 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
2016 Terres Australes Francaises 673,000 sq km France
2010 Chagos (British Indian Ocean Territory) MPA 640,000 sq km United Kingdom
(2015) Rapa Nui Rahui MPA* 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
2012 Marae Moana Marine Park 324,000 sq km Cook Islands
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
(2016) Ascension Ocean Sanctuary* 234,291 sq km United Kingdom
(2012) Norfolk Commonwealth Marine Reserve* 188,433 sq km Australia
2017 Micronesia MPA 184,948 sq km Micronesia
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 Marine Park 150,000 sq km Chile
2017 Revillagigedo National Park 147,629 sq km Mexico
(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
(2017) Niue Marine Protected Area* 126,909 sq km Niue
(2012) Lord Howe Commonwealth Marine Reserve* 110,149 sq km Australia


Bold- Designated and Implemented

* - Awaiting full implementation