MPA Expansion Took A Great Leap Forward in 2016

They’ve been studied for years. And it’s been proven that one of the most effective ways to increase fish stocks and stop the downward trajectory of ocean ecosystems is to establish and effectively manage Marine Protected Areas.  MPA expansion took a great leap towards that goal in 2016 with the protection of the Ross Sea, but the Antarctic MPA was just one of many advancements to keep marine ecosystems intact.

Breaking News: New report offers hope for coral reef resilience and recovery, see “Resilient Marine Ecosystems – Hope Spots.”


US Advances Marine Monuments in the Pacific and Atlantic

flickr-creative commons, marine protected areas, hawaii, marine protected preserves, pacific ocean, marine conservationPetitioning by Native Leaders resulted in the creation of the world’s largest MPA with the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northeastern Hawaiian islands.  Twice the size of Texas, the newly enlarged area  –  was already designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its incredible biodiversity of corals and over 7000 species of marine life.  There will be no fishing, much to the dismay of the local fishing industry. (photo – Flickr/Creative Commons


The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

atlantic ocean, northeast canyons and seamounts, marine protected areas, marien protected presrveThe Atlantic Ocean got a shot in the  arm with the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.  Located just 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod Mass, the monument spans close to 5000 square miles of New England coast, and protects endangered sperm, fin and sei whales, sea turtles, sharks and deep sea corals. (map – Woods Hole) For more read our article: President Obama bans Oil Drilling in Large Areas of Atlantic and Arctic Oceans



The UK creates Marine Protected Areas in the South Pacific and Atlantic

Pitcairn-map5-Artboard_3.ngsversion., marine protected area, mpas, marine conservation, marine protected reservesThe UK created the world’s largest contiguous ocean reserve around the remote Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific,. At 322,000 square miles (830,000 square kilometers), The marine protected area is more than  3.5 times the size of the land mass of the UK. No industrial fishing or seafloor mining will be allowed.  The UK also designated 445,000 sq km of marine protected around St. Helena in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. (map – NG Maps)


Largest Marine Protected Area in Malaysia

Eric Madeja - WWF Malaysia, marine protected areas, maine protected preserves, mpas, marine conservation, ocean issuesMalaysia established the largest Marine Protected Area in the country in 2016: Off the northeast tip of Borneo, the 1 million hectare Tun Mustapha marine sanctury took 13 years to negotiate. (photo – Eric Madega, WWF Malaysia)



Galapagos Islands Saving the sharks

Ecuador Ministry of Environment, marine protected areas, mpas, marine protected preserves, ocean issues, marine conservationThe government of Ecuador has created new no-take, marine protected areas around the northern-most islands of Wolfe and Darwin. The area is known to have the highest abundance of sharks in the world. The Galapagos Islands have already been designated a World Heritage site where 97% of its landmass is protected. But less than 1% of the surrounding waters were protected until Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, made the announcement of the new sanctuary in March 2016. In addition to the 15,000 square miles encompassed by the new northern MPA, President Correa announced 21 smaller conservation areas in the archipelago, for a total of  8,000 square miles (47,000 square kilometers) of protected area or about 1/3 of the waters surrounding the Galapapos. (map – Ministry of Environment, Ecuador)


Columbia Quadruples it’s Marine Protected Areas

Costa Rica, Cocos Island, Burt Jones, Secret Sea visions, marine protected areas, mpas, marine consevation, underwater photographers, sharksA UNESCO World Heritage site located 300 miles off Columbia’s Pacific coast, the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. In September 2016 Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Columbia would quadruple its size to 27,000 square kilometers (10,425 square miles). The ongoing work and petitioning by the local community, citizen scientists and divers who visit this Hope Spot has been the driving force behind its protection. (photo – Burt Jones, Secret Sea Visions)


Expanded Protection for Cocos Island

Costa Rica quadrupled its sanctuary for sharks around Cocos Island National Park with the creation of a 10,000-square-kilometer (3,861-square-mile) area of ocean at this UNESCO World Heritage site.


Canada Adds its Third Marine Protected Area

Amos Nachoum, Big, polar-bears, Canada Marine Protected Areas, MPAS, Marine conservationShell Oil donated 30 exploration permits in the Canadian arctic to create Canada’s third national marine protected area. The 8600 square km area is home to belugas, narwhals, seals, walrus and polar bears. (photo – Amos Nachoum,



Largest National Park in Russia

 With the annexation of Franz Josef Land, the world’s northernmost island chain,  the Russian Arctic National Park became the largest national park in Russia in June 2016 (34,000 square miles or 8.8 million hectares). The 190 uninhabited islands are home to marine mammals such as walrus, bowhead whale, polar bear and narwhal.      


Incredible Momentum for MPA’s but Much More to do!

IUCN World Conservation Congress, marine protected areas, marine conservation, ocean issuesAt this moment, only about 1% of the ocean is strongly protected in actively managed no-take, marine protected areas.   We aren’t even close to the 30% that Scientists say must be shielded from extractive activities in order to bring back biodiversity and rebuild fish stocks.


Commitments from Many Other Countries

Our Ocean Commitment, protected marine areas, protected marine preserves, mpas, marine conservationThe Our Ocean Conference of 2016 highlighted  a ramp-up year of worldwide ocean protection with commitments from the Seychelles, Micronesia, Cambodia, Malta, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Morocco, Norway, Lebanon, Kuwait, Monaco, Bahamas, Panama, Australia, Indonesia,  Republic of Congo, New Caledonia, France, Chile, and more to create and expand their marine protected areas.


It was an Year of Incredible Momentum for Ocean Hope Spots. Go Deeper

Plus for everything current on whales see our post: A Whale of a Tale. And for the latest on the strange, and wonderful new marine creatures discovered in the deep ocean see: Awesome and a Bit Bizarre Marine Life Discoveries.


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