U.S. Marine Protected Areas: Conserving Our Nation's Marine Resources

Forty percent of U.S. waters are part of a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Over 1,600 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) protect biodiversity, conserve our cultural heritage, and support sustainable production of marine resources in the coastal waters of the U.S.  MPAs vary widely in purpose, legal authorities, managing agencies, and the level of protection provided - ranging from "no take" (currently 3% of U.S. waters) to “multiple use” (currently 92% of U.S. waters). In an age where human activity increasingly competes for ocean space and coastal resources, there is an increasing need for management tools such as MPAs, to ensure that the condition of ocean and coastal areas is both maintained and improved.  


Source: NOAA Ocean Today Kiosk, 2009. Click to view more ocean-related videos


A Coral Reef

The U.S. Marine Protected Areas Interactive Mapping Tool helps users visualize MPA boundaries and provide access to the MPA Inventory data in an interactive web-based mapping environment. This mapping tool serves data on over 1,600 MPAs nationwide, offering easy access to spatial boundaries, conservation based classification data, and site management information.

For more information:

NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas Center

Making Waves: Marine Protected Areas Podcast

Closer Look

Relevant Links

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Coastal Condition Report

NOAA Coastal Indicators Information Exchange

The Heinz Center - State of the Nations' Ecosystems 2008