US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National MPA Center

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 The National Marine Protected Center was established in 2000 to lead the development of a national system of marine protected areas, as called for in Executive Order 13158.  The MPA Center is a partnership between NOAA and the Department of the Interior to serve as a resource to all federal, state, territorial and tribal programs responsible for the health of the nation's oceans, and is located within NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.  Click here for a factsheet on the MPA Center.

The National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center's is the nation's hub for building innovative partnerships and tools to protect special ocean places.  The Center works in partnership with the federal, state, tribal, and local governments, tribes, and stakeholders to develop and implement a national system of MPAs. These collaborative efforts help ensure more efficient, effective use of MPAs now and in the future to conserve and sustain the nation's vital marine resources.

The National MPA Center has three goals, based on Executive Order 13158: 

  • Build and maintain the National System of MPAs
  • Improve MPA stewardship and effectiveness
  • Facilitate international, national, and regional coordination of MPA activities.

To carry out these goals, the MPA Center focuses on three primary functions: 

  • Building capacity of federal and state marine protected area programs to more effectively manage natural and cultural marine resources.
  • Communicating with and engaging stakeholders to help connect marine protected areas to communities.
  • Serving as a unique and neutral source of marine protected area-related science, information and tools for coastal and ocean decision-makers.


MPA Center External Review
In 2012, the MPA Center commissioned an External Review conducted by four expert marine protected area (MPA) scientists and managers from academic, non-profit and state government institutions. They were asked to review the MPA Center's activities in order to maximize its effectiveness and transparency and to provide an external assessment of both past accomplishments and future directions. This review serves as a guide as the Center works with its partners, the MPA Federal Advisory Committee and stakeholders in coastal communities to craft a vision for our future in the context of current opportunities and threats to our shared ocean resources.

MPA Center Fact Sheet
MPA Center Strategic Plan
MPA Center Staff Directory

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