June 13, 2012

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In celebration of June 8th’s World Oceans Day, a new online database of global MPAs, www.MPAtlans.org, that is dedicated to bringing the importance of ocean parks into the public eye was announced. Behind the launch of the new online tool is the California based Waitt Foundation and the Marine Conservation Institute announced.

www.MPAtlas.org is an interactive and user-friendly platform that offers a comprehensive scope of data within an online digital map. The appeal of www.MPAtlas.org is in the global scale of the website. This project has compiled and synthesized information to help website users understand the level of protection, biodiversity, biomass, size, and management authorities of MPAs. It is expected that scientists, policy makers, conservation advocates and members of the public will turn to the online tool for comprehensive information.

Announcing the release, Gateway, Inc. co-founder and Waitt Foundation president Ted Waitt explained, “Our main interest is creating a tool to help gain more protection worldwide.”

The world’s oceans are facing increasing pressures including environmental degradation, overfishing, pollution and more. Science has found that the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) can help mitigate these threats, thereby restoring and revitalizing fragile marine ecosystems.

“Ocean life is in dire straits, with marine fisheries collapsing worldwide, and entire ecosystems disappearing — but people don’t know that story,” said National Geographic Explorer in Residence Dr. Enric Sala, “Marine protected areas are not just a tool for restoring the environment and distressed fisheries — they are economic engines for the countries and communities who establish them.”

The launch of www.MPAtlas.org marks a large step towards attaining large-scale oceanic protection. Governments, organizations and members of the public will have access to a clearer picture of local and global MPAs. Scientists and conservation groups will be able to use the online tool to move forward with marine preservation and management projects while the average citizen can use the site to log their own adventures, learn about underwater parks and engage with and support proposed protected areas.

www.MPAtlas.org promises to provide a centralized location for data that is up-to-date and helps to increase general awareness. Such increased awareness is key to ensuring the long-term vitality of the world’s ocean. “We work with government and industry leaders every day to advocate for unique and innovative ways to restore ocean health,” said Dr. Greg Stone, Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International. “Ocean parks are a key tool in turning back the clock toward a brighter future, and MPAtlas.org will go a long way in helping us sound that call.”

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