New BLUEprint for MPAs to help communities establish and manage effective MPAs as thousands gather in Vancouver for IMPAC5

February 08, 2023


As thousands gather this week in Vancouver for the Fifth International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC 5), Blue Marine launches its BLUEprint for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), to support the creation and collaborative management of effective MPAs that benefit people, nature and climate. 

 This downloadable BLUEprint provides a framework of questions and a toolkit of ideas for anyone starting out, or part way along, the journey of establishing and managing MPAs drawing on our experiences from MPA projects across the globe.  

 Clare Brook, CEO at Blue Marine said:  

Since its creation 12 years ago, Blue Marine has worked in a wide range of locations. We work towards our mission of protecting the oceans through facilitating implementation of MPAs and helping prevent overfishing. Every situation is different and our team has navigated a wide variety of challenges in their journey to help conserve marine ecosystems and implement sustainably managed fisheries. Bringing together experiences from home shores to overseas oceans we hope this BLUEprint for MPAs will inspire and help fellow ocean guardians in their quest to create and effectively manage MPAs for the benefit of people, nature and climate.” 

 Securing MPAs – specified areas of ocean where fishing and other extractive activities are restricted or regulated – and ensuring they are effectively managed rather than just paper parks and developing models of sustainable fishing is key to the global mission of protecting 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030.  These MPAs help provide climate change resilience, allow stocks to recover from overfishing and in many cases support sustainable fisheries in tandem with biodiversity protection.  

 Despite a global commitment to protect 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030, only ~8.1 per cent is currently under some level of protection and only 2.1 per cent of the world’s oceans are fully protected from all damaging activities such as bottom trawling. 

 Blue Marine has worked with governments and local stakeholders to support the creation and management of MPAs in locations around the world from domestic UK waters, to the Overseas Territories and from Europe to the Maldives. Every situation and location is different and these experiences have shaped the BLUEprint for MPAs and a suite of regional and theme-based case studies. From developing a model of sustainable fishing in the Lyme Bay marine reserve on the south coast of England, to delivering an endowment fund to support a fully no-take large MPA in Ascension, the BLUEprint reflects the many challenges, pitfalls and successes along the way. 

 The BLUEprint for MPAs sets out the steps under four key themes: Information, People, Economics and Management, from the concept stage (before), through active management (during), to review (after designation and during ongoing management). Four key elements apply in almost all situations: gathering robust Information and data; effectively engaging the People intrinsically linked to and dependent on the area; establishing sustainable Economic and Finance models to support ongoing management; and collaboratively developing appropriate Management measures to ensure long-term success. 

 Many of the MPA projects Blue Marine has been involved in build on the experiences from the Lyme Bay Reserve where one of the largest areas protected from bottom towed fishing was established in 2008.  Since then, the University of Plymouth has monitored the recovery of this biodiversity hotspot badged ‘England’s coral garden’ due to its beds of nationally rare pink sea fans.  

 Members of the University of Plymouth research team supported by Blue Marine will present the research from 11 years of study within a dedicated session at IMPAC5 on 8 February entitled: ‘The whole site approach to Marine Protected Area and other effective conservation measures management to achieve fisheries and conservation goals’. 

 Dr Bede Davies will present on ‘11 Years of whole site protection. Outputs for conservation and fisheries’. Discussing results from 11 years monitoring in the Lyme Bay MPA using Baited Remote Underwater Video systems and Towed Flying array. Bede will highlight the conservation benefits of the holistic ‘whole-site’ approach to management applied in Lyme Bay since 2008, while also emphasising the importance of yearly monitoring to properly assess MPA effectiveness.  

Reserve Recovery | Lyme Bay Fisheries & Conservation Reserve ( 

 Dr Adam Rees will present on ‘Optimal fishing effort benefits fisheries and conservation’ sharing results from a four-year study funded by Blue Marine Foundation and Defra to define a threshold for sustainable potting within the Lyme Bay MPA.  The Potting Study | Lyme Bay Fisheries & Conservation Reserve ( 

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