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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 Dec 15;77(1-2):7-10. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.10.039. Epub 2013 Nov 15.

One size does not fit all: the emerging frontier in large-scale marine conservation.

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Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i, P.O. Box 1346, Kāne'ohe, HI 96744, USA. Electronic address:


On the 20th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a network of very large marine protected areas (the Big Ocean network) has emerged as a key strategy in the move to arrest marine decline and conserve some of the last remaining relatively undisturbed marine areas on the globe. Here we outline the ecological, economic and policy benefits of very large-scale MPAs and show their disproportionate value to global marine conservation targets. In particular we point out that very large-scale MPAs are a critical component of reaching the Aichi targets of protecting 10% of global marine habitats by 2020, because in addition to encompassing entire ecosystems, they will bring forward the expected date of achievement by nearly three decades (2025 as opposed to 2054). While the need for small MPAs remains critical, large MPAs will complement and enhance these conservation efforts. Big Ocean sites currently contain more than 80% of managed area in the sea, and provide our best hope for arresting the global decline in marine biodiversity.


Adaptive management; Aichi target; Ecosystem-based management; Fisheries; MPA; Marine policy; Marine reserves; Marine spatial planning

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