Marine Protected Area Center 20th Anniversary

For 20 years, NOAA's National Marine Protected Area Center (MPA Center) has served as a catalyst for conservation partnerships to protect the ocean’s most important places. The MPA Center provides global leadership and fosters collaboration networks to address emerging and long-standing MPA challenges. NOAA's Marine Protected Areas 2020 report will outline U.S. contributions toward international goals to protect 10 percent of the ocean by 2020.


Ocean ecosystems are vital to our lives and livelihoods.

A healthy ocean drives strong economies, provides food, jobs, and recreation, and is a source for current and new medicines.

To help protect the oceans most important places, many countries and states have created marine protected areas.

Like parks on land, marine protected areas are managed to conserve habitats and species for generations to come.

Still only about seven percent of the global ocean is protected, compared to 15% on land.

In 2000, a group of scientists and conservationists came together to protect our ocean.

They forged a common vision for more connected and effective marine protected areas in US waters.

Inspired by this vision, an executive order was signed in May 2000 to strengthen and expand the nation's system of marine protected areas.

It created the National marine protected areas center to champion this goal.

Since then, the center has helped the U.S. protect important marine places in the face of a changing ocean and growing human uses.

We work to understand the progress andeffectiveness of protection efforts, through a comprehensive inventory that tracks all marine protected areas in US waters.

We analyze human connections to marine protected areas, and work to
connect local knowledge of ocean uses to resource management decisions.

We connect and strengthen marine protected areas and networks in the U.S. and around the world, and have created partnerships and trained over 5,500 ocean managers from 46 countries.

We build resilience by sharing experiences, tools, and lessons learned in assessing climate risks and adapting to a changing planet.

The National Marine Protected Area Center is a trusted source for information and decision support, and establishes networks critical to protecting our ocean, so it can sustain us for generations to come.