MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
Conservation and restoration of our marine ecosystems, hand-in-hand with local communities and citizens across Europe
Protecting our ocean for future generations
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) play a vital role in safeguarding biodiversity, ensuring clean water and air, mitigating climate change, and fortifying Europe’s resilience to environmental changes.
At the SUBMARINER Network, we are committed to the preservation and restoration of Europe’s marine ecosystems. Through our projects we strive to align regulatory demands with societal expectations, co-create effective management tools, and develop resilient networks of MPAs. Join us on this journey as we work towards a sustainable future, protecting our oceans and waters for generations to come.
Discover our marine protection projects
Our projects align regulatory demands, engage stakeholders in the co-creation process, design tools, and develop new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Challenges facing marine protected areas
Europe’s seas and oceans, though rich in biodiversity, have suffered from decades of overfishing, pollution, climate change, and other anthropogenic pressures. The North Sea is grappling with pressures from intense fishing, habitat degradation, and offshore industries. In the Baltic Sea, eutrophication resulting from nutrient enrichment poses a significant challenge, leading to harmful algal blooms and oxygen depletion. Both seas are also experiencing the consequences of climate change, through rising sea temperatures and sea-level rise. Fragmented management approaches, limited funding, and inadequate public awareness further compound these challenges.
In the face of adversity, SUBMARINER is actively tackling these obstacles. Through collaborative projects and partnerships, we are promoting integrated approaches to effective MPA management. By fostering collaboration, raising awareness, and implementing science-based strategies, we are paving the way for a sustainable and brighter future.
Marine Protected Areas resource hub
Our specialists have put together a collection of publications, additional relevant projects, tools, and resources on the topic of fisheries and sustainable aquaculture
Latest Marine protected news
Upcoming Event: 2nd EU Blue Parks Community Workshop
Upcoming Event: European Ocean Days
Roadmap 2030 – Available Now!
UNITED project and its German pilot featured in German TV documentary
Registration is open for the 1st Mission Arena in Gothenburg!
Still have questions? We have answers
What are Marine Protected Areas?
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designated zones in oceans, seas, or other large water bodies that are set aside and managed to protect marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural and cultural resources. These areas are established by governments or other competent authorities to conserve marine life and habitats, provide a sanctuary for species, and promote sustainable fisheries management.
MPAs can vary widely in their purpose, regulations, and levels of protection. Some MPAs focus on strict conservation, where human activities such as fishing, mining, and recreational activities are heavily restricted or prohibited to allow marine ecosystems to recover and flourish. Other MPAs might permit certain activities like sustainable fishing or tourism, but under specific guidelines and regulations designed to minimize negative impacts on the environment.
Do Marine Protected Areas allow for economic activity?
Yes, marine protected areas (MPAs) can allow for some types of economic activity, depending on their specific regulations and management objectives. The level of economic activity permitted within an MPA varies based on the goals of conservation and sustainable resource management set by the governing authorities.
Sustainable Fisheries: Some MPAs are designed to support sustainable fisheries management. In these areas, certain types of fishing activities might be allowed under strict regulations, such as specific gear types, limited catch quotas, or seasonal closures. These measures aim to ensure that fishing is conducted in a way that does not deplete fish stocks and allows for their natural replenishment.
Eco-tourism: Many MPAs promote eco-tourism activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and wildlife watching. These activities can provide economic benefits to local communities by attracting tourists interested in experiencing the unique marine biodiversity and natural beauty of protected areas.
Research and Education: MPAs often facilitate scientific research and education, which can lead to economic benefits. Research activities within MPAs can attract scientists and funding, contributing to local economies. Additionally, educational programs, guided tours, and visitor centers within MPAs can create jobs and generate revenue.
Cultural and Traditional Uses: Some MPAs respect and preserve the cultural and traditional uses of marine resources by indigenous communities. These activities, such as artisanal fishing or gathering of specific marine products, can be allowed in designated zones within the MPA to support the livelihoods of local communities while ensuring sustainability.
Restoration and Sustainable Development: In certain cases, MPAs may be established to restore degraded marine habitats. Economic activities related to habitat restoration, such as replanting mangroves or restoring coral reefs, can create employment opportunities and stimulate local economies.
It’s crucial to note that the economic activities allowed within MPAs are carefully managed to balance conservation goals with the needs of local communities and the sustainable use of marine resources. Proper enforcement of regulations and ongoing monitoring are essential to ensure that economic activities within MPAs do not compromise the conservation objectives for which these areas were established.
What is the EU's plan to protect marine biodiversity?
The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is a comprehensive framework that outlines the European Union’s vision and objectives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. One of the key components of this strategy is the focus on expanding and effectively managing protected areas, including marine protected areas (MPAs). The strategy recognises the importance of MPAs in conserving marine biodiversity and ensuring the health and resilience of marine ecosystems. Here’s how the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 relates to MPAs:
Expansion of Protected Areas: The strategy sets a target to protect at least 30% of the EU’s land and 30% of the EU’s sea areas, including a significant proportion of well-managed MPAs. This commitment underscores the EU’s intention to expand the coverage of marine protected areas to safeguard marine biodiversity and support ecosystem services.
Restoring Marine Ecosystems: The strategy emphasises the need to restore degraded marine ecosystems, which can include habitats within MPAs. Restoration efforts within MPAs can involve activities such as replanting seagrasses, restoring coral reefs, and enhancing the health of marine habitats, contributing to the overall goals of the strategy.
Promoting Sustainable Fisheries: The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 acknowledges the importance of sustainable fisheries management in achieving biodiversity conservation goals. Well-designed MPAs can serve as replenishment zones for fish stocks, supporting sustainable fisheries by allowing fish populations to recover and spill over into adjacent fishing areas.
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: MPAs play a role in climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon and can contribute to climate change adaptation by enhancing ecosystem resilience. Protecting and restoring coastal and marine habitats within MPAs can help coastal communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
Want to know more?
Reach out to our expert
Ivana Stojanovic, Project Manager