To maintain long-term ocean health, we need marine managed areas to ensure that special places and life forms are available for future generations. This interactive mapping application provides detailed information on over 18,000 managed saltwater and coastal areas worldwide.
The strength of fishing protection by regulation is indicated by the shade of blue (darker is more protected). No take and no entry areas, the most protected, are marked in red. To get details, click anywhere to discover MPAs and restrictions at that point. Jump to a specific region with the Go To: menu or Search for an MPA by area name or managing authority using the Search Box. Some countries are not yet mapped and are indicated by orange EEZ ocean boundary lines. New countries are being added rapidly.
Special areas of the ocean needing protection are highlighted in purple. These areas are provided by Mission Blue (Hope Spots) and others. You can toggle these overlays in the Layers menu and compare them to established MPAs on the map.
We offer this compilation of data freely, and encourage wide usage. However, it has taken many years, and intense effort by staff to create this platform. As a scientific courtesy, when using the data, please give credit to ProtectedSeas. For additional information or to inquire about partnerships contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ProtectedSeas uses a standardized process to collect, snythesize, and map marine managed areas.
Restrictions: The restricted activities listed for each managed area provide a summary of regulations (particular to extraction of natural, living resources) cited in official legislation and do not present the regulations in their entirety. For complete description of the regulations, users need to consult the official record, federal register notice or state/federal code (provided as URL links when available).
Boundaries: When available, the boundary data are obtained from the managing agency or authoritative source referenced for each managed area. When these data are not available, have not been drawn or are out-of-date, the boundaries are drafted from coordinates and boundary descriptions cited in state or federal code. Links to online sources/code are provided for each managed area in the site attributes.
Managed area boundaries are created for use at specific spatial scales. State and regional boundaries that cover large areas will often use a low-moderate resolution shoreline to depict the landward boundary of an MPA, while local boundaries that cover small areas will use a higher resolution shoreline. In areas where local and regional scale boundaries overlap, discrepancies between these shorelines (mapped at different scales) will be apparent.
The database that supports this application is updated monthly with new boundaries, boundary modifications, updates to regulations and other information obtained through feedback provided from users. Changes made between versions are recorded and published with the downloadable data. If you notice errors for an area, use the feedback button in the area details to let us know!
Our full Marine Area Database is available for download in various GIS formats by region under a simple, free license. To learn more or to download the data, please visit our Ocean Data page
ProtectedSeas is working to map all global areas - but it's a big task! If you have MPA data you would like to share, please send us a message via our Contact Form
Multiple regulations may apply in the same location yet be managed under differing authorities. When providing regulations information, this application does not assume precedence or hierarchy in listing of authorities and regulations. Many areas of U.S. waters have overlapping jurisdictions and a given ocean space may be managed under different authorities for different intents. As such, it may show that a given ocean area regulates a certain activity (e.g. commercial fishing) under one authority while prohibiting that same activity under a different authority. This application is intended to show all regulations that apply to a given ocean area and does not impose an order on how these regulations apply.
Most marine managed areas allow a wide range of recreational uses. However, this application focuses specifically on the kinds of extraction activities that are restricted or prohibited by law in U.S. waters. While not the focus of this effort, details on these kinds of uses and recreational opportunities may be found through the website links provided for each managed area.
One of the most important and effective tools to uncover and prevent marine pollution is the U.S. Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”), which allows a whistleblower, whether a U.S. citizen or a foreign national, that gives information on marine pollution to potentially collect up to half of any fine collected upon successful conviction. Another important tool used to protect marine areas and related wildlife is the Lacey Act, which imposes monetary penalties on individuals and companies for trafficking in certain fish, wildlife, and plants that were illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of U.S. law, including through IUU fishing. The Lacey Act also provides for whistleblower rewards based on the monies collected by the federal government as a result of the whistleblower’s information.
The National Whistleblower Center (“NWC”) works with whistleblowers, including wildlife whistleblowers, who report potential violations of APPS and wildlife laws such as the Lacey Act through the operation of the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund (“NWLDEF”) Whistleblower Legal Assistance Program. NWC is a U.S. non-partisan, nonprofit organization that has worked for over thirty years to promote whistleblower rights and protections through litigation, legislative advocacy, and public education. NWC was a grand prize winner in the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, which was a USAID initiative in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC.
NWC’s secure and confidential reporting system allows whistleblowers to confidentially disclose potential wrongdoing to staff attorneys at NWLDEF, who will review their claims. The Whistleblower Legal Assistance Program connects whistleblowers in search of competent counsel to attorneys that handle whistleblower cases across the nation. Although neither NWC nor NWLDEF’s staff attorneys represent you unless you have signed a formal written representation agreement, all communications with NWLDEF are considered confidential under the attorney-client privilege.
If you are a whistleblower and wish to disclose potential wrongdoing or retaliation, you can submit a free, confidential report here. If you do not wish to submit this form online, you may print it out, fill in the answers and send it via postal service to:
P.O. Box 25090
Washington, DC 20027
Please note, any materials submitted by mail to the NWLDEF cannot be returned.