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Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important management tool to ensure the protection and sustainable use for marine ecosystems. The foresight activities on Marine Protected Areas developed a roadmap for introducing a network of ecologically relevant and coherent MPAs in European Seas and to strengthen the research basis to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning a network of MPAs.


Position Paper 18, Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Network in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities (April 2013)

News release for the MPA publication (April 2013)


EMB Science Webinar on The MPA Guide: A framework to achieve global goals for the ocean (October 2022)

EMB Science Webinar on The cells of ecosystem functioning: towards a holistic vision of marine space (September 2020)



Marine protected areas (MPAs) are areas for which protective, conservation, restorative or precautionary measures have been instituted to protect marine biodiversity and endangered species to conserve ecologically sensitive areas and to assure the sustainable management of all human activities including fisheries, research, education and recreation. MPAs constitute a strong management tool and a key starting point to pave the way for Ecosystem-based Management of the marine environment.

Our foresight activities on MPAs investigated science needs and priorities to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning networks of MPAs across Europe and beyond.


  • Profiling and highlighting the key scientific priorities that will inform the implementation of a MPA network and support its management and monitoring processes in Europe.
  • Providing European research programme managers, with a list of key research priorities and recommendations in order to best promote, inform and support the rapid implementation of a network of MPAs in Europe.
  • Providing science based recommendations to assist MPA planners, MPA managers and EU/national decision makers.


Related activities

  • World Park Congress 2014; 12- 19 November, Sydney, Australia
  • International Marine Conservation Congress 2014 (IMCC2014); 14 – 18 August 2014, Glasgow, UK
  • 18th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SBSTTA); 23 – 27 June 2014, Montreal, Canada
  • The launch of position paper 18 was at the European Maritime Day 2013 stakeholder conference in Malta on 22 May 2013 (workshop 13, 11:30-13:00). A press release was produced.
  • "The North Sea, Field Lab for Science-Based Marine Protection" (22 March 2011, Leuven, Belgium) - This symposium, organized by the Marine Board Working Group on Marine Protected Areas, the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Westbanks Consortium, focused on the North Sea as a model system to investigate the use of scientific data in Marine Protected Areas (MPA) planning. Different North Sea states presented their viewpoints on how scientific information underpins the decision process and provided guidelines for the management of MPAs (more on symposium website)



  • 3-4 October 2011, Paris, France
  • 23 March 2011, Leuven, Belgium
  • 4-5 October 2010, Paris, France
  • 16 March 2010, Brussels, Belgium



Chair: Esben Moland Olsen, Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway

Working Group members:

Marta Chantal Ribeiro, University of Porto, Portugal
Luciano Fonseca, formally at UNESCO
Raquel Goni, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Spain
Stelios Katsanevakis, formerly at HCMR, Greece
Enrique Macpherson Mayol, The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Spain
Dominique Pelletier, Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Ifremer), France
Marijn Rabaut, formerly at University of Gent, Belgium
Philip Weaver, Seascape Consultants, UK
Tania Zaharia, National Institute for Marine Research "Grigore Antipa", Romania

Additional Contribution from:

David Johnson, Seascape Consultants, UK


Contact at European Marine Board Secretariat: Email