The MPA Inventory

red footed booby in a tree at palmyra atoll
Red-footed Booby, (Sula sula) at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Laura M. Beauregard/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

NOAA's Marine Protected Areas Inventory (MPA Inventory) describes all MPAs in US waters, where they are and what they do. This comprehensive geospatial database combines publicly available data with information from state and federal MPA programs. It can be used to view MPAs, explore status and trends of MPAs, create customized maps and analytical products, or add MPAs to data portals, online viewers and other spatial data visualizations.  

Types of MPAs

The MPA Inventory includes sites that meet specific definitions and are classified to allow analysis of various characteristics across multiple spatial scales. Please review MPA Inventory metadata (.pdf) for more details.

MPA Inventory Data

The MPA Inventory is published annually in various formats to meet a wide range of user needs. The MPA Inventory can be accessed via:                  

Analyzing the Inventory

The MPA Inventory can be used to calculate marine protected area statistics to support a wide range of research and policy interests, as illustrated in the following:

MPA Inventory Updates

The MPA Inventory is updated annually. Please contact us with any new site information, existing site clarifications or updated spatial boundary data.   

Related Resources

The MPA Center is working with Anthropocene Institute on the development of a marine managed area database that expands upon the MPA Inventory to include a wider range of managed areas beyond the NOAA MPA definition.  This evolving resource is available through and offers spatial boundary data along with summarized regulations information for over 3000 managed areas in U.S. waters.   Available as downloadable GIS and as a web mapping service , this database is intended to inform mariners and ocean users about place-based regulations related to living resource extraction.
MPA Inventory can be integrated with other thematic spatial data to evaluate spatial patterns inside and outside MPA boundaries. The SPatial Analysis and Resource Characterization (SPARC) tool is an add-in to ArcGIS 10.0 that simplifies this workflow and reports out results based on defined spatial areas, zones or boundaries.

De Facto MPA are areas officially delineated for reasons other than conservation, such as economic use, human health or safety, protection of government or private property, or national security. See the De Facto MPAs inventory.


The MPA Inventory is not designed for regulatory purposes. For official boundary definitions and regulations, please consult the Code of Federal Regulations or relevant state code.