Announcing the release of MPAtlas.org

6/7/2012

Unique new tool points out lack of ocean parks, shows hope for the future

SAN DIEGO, CA  In celebration of World Oceans Day, the La Jolla based Waitt Foundation and the Marine Conservation Institute announced the launch of a new online tool at www.MPAtlas.org, dedicated to bringing the importance of ocean parks into the public eye.
 
The world’s oceans are facing enormous adversity from environmental degradation, overfishing, and pollution.  Science has shown that the establishment of ocean parks, or marine protected areas (MPA), can mitigate these harms, thereby restoring and revitalizing fragile marine ecosystems.  www.MPAtlas.org is the foremost database of global MPAs.  It is an online digital map that assembles key information on marine protected areas around the world.  An interactive and user-friendly platform, www.MPAtlas.org is geared towards providing a comprehensive scope of data for conservation advocates, scientists, policy makers, and the interested public alike.
 
"Ocean life is in dire straits, with marine fisheries collapsing worldwide, and entire ecosystems disappearing – but people don't know that story.  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.  MPAtlas.org is a new and essential way to engage the public in this discussion, and a step forward for marine science," said Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society.
 
The appeal of www.MPAtlas.com is in the global scale of the website.  There are constant pushes to safeguard more of the ocean each year, yet today, less than one percent is protected.  This project has compiled and synthesized information to help website users understand the level of protection, biodiversity, biomass, size, and management authorities of MPAs.  Conservation organizations and policy makers will find such updates crucial in planning how they aim to move forward with marine preservation and management projects.  Recreational users such as SCUBA divers and ocean kayakers are able to use the site to log their adventures and learn about the world's best underwater parks.
 
"We work with government and industry leaders every day to advocate for unique and innovative ways to restore ocean health.  But real progress on this urgent global problem will only come once the public engages to insist that we, as a global community, work toward sustainable ocean solutions  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 to sound that call," commented Dr. Greg Stone, Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International.
 
The launch of www.MPAtlas.org marks a huge step towards attaining large-scale oceanic protection.  Governments, organizations, and individuals will be provided with a clearer picture of local and global MPAs; this increased awareness is necessary for ensuring the long-term vitality of our ocean and our futures.  The stories of vibrant ocean places are catalogued on www.MPAtlas.com.
 
Announcing the release, Gateway, Inc. co-founder and Waitt Foundation president Ted Waitt commented:  “Our main interest is creating a tool to help gain more protection worldwide.  Not only will MPAtlas.org serve as the only centralized and up-to-date source for what ocean spaces are currently protected, but will also be the go-to resource for the public to engage with and support proposed protected areas.”
To learn more, please visit www.MPAtlas.org and sign in using Facebook, or create an account today!
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Contact: Jacob James
+1-858-205-2042
jj@waittfoundation.org      
About the Waitt Foundation
Ted Waitt established the Waitt Foundation (WF) in 1993 to reflect his family’s heartfelt commitment to give back to the community by “helping good people do great things” through research and education. Since then, the foundation has donated over $118 million to non-profit and charitable organizations both at home and abroad.  With the rapid decline of marine life and resources, the primary mission of the Waitt Foundation is to protect our oceans from the harmful impacts of overfishing.  To achieve this, WF directs its efforts toward facilitating the creation of marine protected areas, engaging stakeholders to improve the management of fisheries, fostering sustainable solutions, and raising public awareness through a network of collaborative NGO’s and foundations.  The Waitt Foundation’s vision is to restore the seas to full productivity for future generations.
 
About the Marine Conservation Institute
Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving our living oceans.  The institute works with scientists, politicians, government officials and other organizations around the world to protect essential ocean places and the wild species in them.  MCI’s goal is maintaining and recovering bountiful, diverse and healthy oceans now and for generations to come.  MCI identifies the most important and vulnerable ocean ecosystems, then advocates for protecting them.