Navigator data contributes to UNESCO IOC State of the Ocean Report 2024

Jun 3, 2024
ProtectedSeas Navigator data contributed to a chapter in the recently published United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) State of the Oceans Report (StOR) 2024. The chapter, entitled “Biodiversity knowledge and threats on marine life: Assessing no-take zones as a refuge for marine species”, revealed interesting statistics on how much we know about what species, especially those threatened with extinction, occur in Marine Protected Areas. ProtectedSeas was delighted to make our comprehensive marine regulatory data available for this analysis.

A link to a news release from our collaborators at OBIS is here and a link to the StOR is here.

ProtectedSeas staff contribute to UN Decade Workshop Report

Mar 13, 2024

ProtectedSeas participated in a workshop at IMPAC5 to discuss participatory knowledge systems for effective marine spatial planning management and protection. Our staff were happy to collaborate on the new report, which can be found here.

Nautilus features ProtectedSeas Navigator

Nov 28, 2023

ProtectedSeas Navigator centralizes data about marine protected areas—and places with lesser protections—from around the world.

Launched in June 2023, Navigator is featured in Nautilus here.

ProtectedSeas staff helps inform US Offshore Wind Energy Atlas

Sep 15, 2023

Offshore wind energy is on the way to becoming a significant U.S. renewable energy source. Recently, Anna-Katharina von Krauland co-authored the US offshore wind energy atlas.  “The ProtectedSeas dataset provides an intuitive and integrated resource for understanding otherwise fragmented marine spatial planning data, which along with the expert advice offered by the team, was hugely helpful in determining which regulations pertain specifically to wind energy development, ultimately enabling a more realistic atlas.”

~ Anna-Katharina von Krauland Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University.  

Link to study:

Guidance on marine protected area protection level assignments when faced with unknown regulatory information

Feb 23, 2023

  • Direct MPA regulations or management plans rarely address the complete set of fishing and activity restrictions in place.
  • Regulation-based MPA evaluation systems can reliably identify fully and highly protected areas, even with unknown information.
  • Navigator’s Level of Fishing Protection (LFP) scores can help guide assumptions about unknown information.
  • Using existing datasets to assign protection levels (following the RBCS or similar) allows for faster global assessments of protection.


Strong human use regulations are an important precondition for marine protected area (MPA) effectiveness. Distinguishing MPAs based on their protection levels has shown advantages, but the availability of regulatory information about allowed activities is a major roadblock towards completing assessments at scale. Here, using a California case study, we explore assigning MPA protection levels following the regulation-based classification system (RBCS) under different scenarios of incomplete regulatory information. In the first group of scenarios (A), only readily available information was used, i.e., information contained in direct MPA implementing regulations and management plans. In the second group (B), information was limited to the activities in ProtectedSeas’ Navigator that matched those in the RBCS. From group A, 99% and 100% correct classification of fully and highly protected areas, respectively, were obtained when treating unknown aquaculture, bottom exploitation, and bottom extraction as ‘prohibited’ and boating, anchoring, and fishing activities as ‘allowed’. High classification accuracy was also obtained for moderately, poorly, and unprotected areas. From group B, 92% and 94% correct classification of fully and highly protected areas were obtained when using the same assumptions for non-fishing activities but using Navigator’s Level of Fishing Protection (LFP) score to guide assumptions about unknown fishing activities. Correct classification rates were poorer with different assumptions. Regulation-based MPA evaluation systems can reliably identify fully and highly protected areas in the face of unknown information, when assumptions about unknown information are guided by contextual indicators such as generally regulated human activities and/or overall level of fishing restriction.

Beyond the boundaries: How regulation-centered marine protected area information improves ocean protection assessments

Feb 2, 2021

    • Accurate estimates of ocean conservation progress require accessible regulatory data.
    • Fishing restrictions within MPAs and MMAs inform marine protection coverage.
    • U.S. MPAs and MMAs are most protective nearshore and in low population areas offshore.
    • Overlapping MPAs and MMAs make overall assessments of protection challenging.
    • Cumulative analysis of overlapping prohibitions provides new insights into management.


Comprehensive, spatially explicit data that include regulatory information are essential for evaluating the level of protection that marine protected areas (MPAs) and other marine managed areas (MMAs) provide to marine life, and to inform progress towards ocean protection targets. An analysis based on the ProtectedSeas database, which includes information on regulated activities, found that 85% of U.S. waters are in managed areas that restrict living resource extraction at some level above generally applicable regulations, with 52% managed at a low level of protection and 3% managed as highly protected no-take areas. States with the most state waters area in no-take MPAs are Hawaii (~25%), California (~9%), and Oregon (~3%). The majority of highly protected areas in U.S. waters exist in low-populated areas of the Pacific, such as the Papahānaumokuākea and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments. Under a quarter of U.S. waters are closed to bottom trawling, with the West Coast and Alaska each contributing one-third of trawl closures by area. Bottom trawling is prohibited in nearly 90% of West Coast waters. Focusing on waters off California showed that overlapping management and fishing gear restrictions can increase overall protection. In state waters, no-take MPAs account for roughly 9% of the area, while restricted take MPAs of different types cover 27% of the area. About 40% of California state waters are in some kind of MPA, while 13.4% of state waters have a high level of protection from fishing impacts. In federal waters off California, under one percent are in no-take areas while nearly all waters are subject to some kind of fishery restriction. Capturing regulatory information at the individual MPA and MMA level will improve assessments of current protection, inform planning of new protections, and provide ocean users a more accessible way to increase compliance through awareness.

Map and insets show Level of Fishing Protection (LFP) distribution across all U.S. waters with pie chart (top center) reflecting LFP categories as proportional contributions across all of U.S. waters. Regional pie charts (bottom) depict LFP categories as proportional contributions across each region’s total marine water area. *Dark Gray Canvas Basemap courtesy of Esri and partners.

Central California MPAs and MMAs. The left map depicts highest categorical LFP (1–5) assigned to a given ocean area; the middle map shows cumulative number of fishing gears prohibited (0–8); and the right map shows total number of overlapping management areas (0–20). *National Geographic World Basemap courtesy of Esri, National Geographic and partners.