Marine Protected Areas

What is a Marine Protected Area?

Here we help you to learn all about the purpose and value of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), how MPAs work, and the challenges they face.


Marine Protected Areas: Why They Matter

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designated areas of the ocean that are legally protected for conservation, responsible travel, and sustainable use of ocean resources by local communities. MPAs safeguard a variety of marine ecosystems, including beaches, seabeds, open water, and coral reefs, which are all vital to the health of the oceans and the planet. Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve in Belize exemplifies the importance and potential of MPAs in preserving marine ecosystems and supporting local communities.


The Importance of MPAs

Approximately 3 billion people worldwide depend on seafood as a source of food, while up to 12% of the world’s population relies on the sea for their livelihoods.

However, these habitats are under threat from overfishing, coral damage, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. MPAs control human activities and reduce environmental stress, allowing marine wildlife and habitats to recover and thrive.

The coral reefs and islands of the Turneffe Atoll have been identified as a biodiversity hotspot. This area is ecologically significant, economically vital, and has the potential to support both responsible ecotourism and local communities.

Marine Protected Area vs. no Marine Protected Area


Balancing the Needs of MPA Users

Managing an MPA requires balancing the needs of different groups of users and funding for monitoring, research, and enforcement. Regular patrols and enforcement are necessary, and MPAs also provide valuable research opportunities.

Encouraging responsible ecotourism to MPAs can make them more viable by raising funds through fees and donations from travelers. These funds can be applied directly towards supporting ocean conservation and the livelihoods of communities who depend on the sea.

Did you know?

Ocean-dwelling species are going extinct twice as fast as creatures on land.


Rewilding the Ocean

MPAs are a regenerative tool for rewilding the ocean, allowing marine wildlife and habitats to recover and thrive.

By protecting multiple, interlinked ecosystems, MPAs can boost biodiversity both within and beyond their boundaries.

This in turn can support sustainable fisheries and attract responsible travelers who want to experience the area and make a positive impact through their travel.

Did you know?

Larger MPAs are more successful, but over 30% of MPAs are less than 1km2 in area.

Learn more

Subscribe to our mailing list today

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.