Overhead view of ocean

Marine Protected Areas

Key Issue

Marine Protected Areas

In line with our mission, the National Aquarium is committed to:

  • Supporting the creation and expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs), including wildlife refuges, national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, all of which are part of effective ocean planning that balances multiple human uses of the ocean with protection of marine resources.
  • Educating the public about the importance and benefits of well-designed marine protected areas.

We care about this issue because:

  • The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the planet, and yet, less than five percent of the ocean is protected. Understanding the global scope of human impact on ocean environments, marine protected areas help correct this imbalance, setting aside special areas to improve ocean resiliency and allow for regeneration of resources important for ecosystem and economic health.
  • The United States is a demonstrated global leader in this effort, with more than 25 percent of our waters protected!
  • In addition to benefitting ocean and human health, MPAs are also a smart investment. They complement management of fisheries, shipping, energy and other maritime uses. More than 42 million people visit national marine sanctuaries every year, contributing about $8 billion annually to coastal and ocean-dependent economies.
  • We help by:

  • Serving as one of only a few host sites for NOAA’s Ocean Explorer teacher workshops, which include research updates about sanctuaries and monuments.
  • Encouraging the public to learn about MPAs, whether remotely through digital platforms or in person by visiting a refuge or marine sanctuary.
  • Engaging with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) and its implementation of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan, which was finalized in December 2016 and aims to create a regional ocean action plan for Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.
  • Updated July 2017