What are Marine Protected Areas (MPA)?
Under the Marine Protected Areas Policy an MPA is defined as “An area of the marine environment especially dedicated to, or achieving, through adequate protection, the maintenance and/or recovery of biological diversity at the habitat and ecosystem level in a healthy functioning state”.
For a site to “adequately protect” marine biodiversity, the MPA Policy requires that
management measures applied to that site meet the protection standard.
The protection standard provides the guidance for assessing whether a tool, or a combination of tools, provides for the maintenance and/or recovery of biological diversity at the habitat and ecosystem level in a healthy functioning state at a particular site. The standard is described in the “Marine Protected Areas: Classification, Protection Standard and Implementation Guidelines”.
Ecologically representative networks
There are a number of principles that are considered important in developing a comprehensive and representative network of MPAs. Three of the key ones are Representation, Replication and Connectivity. For a detailed description of the various ecological considerations that should be taken into account when developing a representative network of MPA see the document “Network Design: Ecological Concepts”.
Representation refers to the inclusion of each habitat type within a marine reserve. To be included as ‘representative’, the habitat must be of sufficient extent and quality to enable the maintenance and/or recovery of biological diversity at the habitat and ecosystem level in a healthy functioning state
Replication is the protection of the same habitat type across two or more sites within a network
Connectivity is the extent to which populations in different parts of a species’ range are linked by the movement of eggs, larvae or other propagules, juveniles or adults.