"The Republic of Palau is a special place. An archipelago of hundreds of islands spread across the north-western Pacific ocean, Palau is home to more than 1,300 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and an estimated 130 species of rare sharks and stingrays. Its pristine reefs support more coral fish and other invertebrates per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. Its waters contain one of the largest portions of endemic species in the world, seven of the nine known giant clam species, the most marine lakes per mile of territory, the most isolated Dugong (Seacow) population, and some of the world’s most extensive seagrass beds. This vibrant biodiversity and incredible beauty make Palau one of National Geographic's “Last Great Places on Earth”, CNN Traveler's best island destination, and a top 10 Ethical Traveler destination for three consecutive years.
Palauan leaders have long understood that they are the stewards of this rich endowment, and that the country’s past, present, and future are inextricably linked to the health of its natural environment. For centuries, local chiefs balanced community needs with environmental preservation by declaring a “Bul” - a moratorium - when necessary to sustain a resource. Reefs, for example, would be deemed off limits during spawning and feeding periods so that the ecosystem could replenish itself and fish stocks would remain abundant. Certain areas were also given permanent protection because of their important biodiversity.
This traditional ethos is commonly referred to today as an ecosystem approach to sustainable development. It is uniquely enshrined in Palauan law: Article 6 of Palau’s Constitution, which sets out the responsibilities of the national government, requires the government to “take positive action” to conserve “a beautiful, healthful and resourceful natural environment.”
Given this cultural and political mandate, Palauan Presidents have established some of the world’s most progressive environmental policies, such as:
-Creation of the world’s first shark sanctuary, sparking a global movement to protect sharks
-The Micronesian Challenge to effectively conserve at least 30% of near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources
-The Protected Areas Network, a national framework for community-based conservation
-Stringent regulations outlawing bottom trawling."
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.