Marine Protected Areas (Diving Deeper podcast, 2.9.09)
MPAs are defined areas where natural or cultural resources are given greater protection than the surrounding waters. In the United States, MPAs span a range of habitats including the open ocean, coastal areas, inter-tidal zones, estuaries, and the Great Lakes.
The National Marine Protected Areas Center launched a new interactive online mapping tool that, for the first time, allows users to view boundaries and access data for more than 1,000 marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States.
The new MPA mapping tool, available from the MPA Center’s Web site provides an interface to explore MPA information that was previously limited to expert geographic information system users. The site has easy-to-use functions to visualize MPA boundaries, review MPA classification information (e.g., level of protection, managing agency, fishing restrictions), and explore all MPAs in a given location.
The tool provides access to the MPA Inventory, a comprehensive database on existing U.S. MPAs, with data on over 1,600 MPAs nationwide. This dataset, updated January 2010, offers a detailed, contemporary picture of the type, abundance, and distribution of marine protected areas throughout the U.S and was designed to provide managers, scientists, and the public with an increased understanding and technical capacity for ocean resource protection, management, and stewardship.