Nearly 4% of the total ocean is considered “protected” by MPAs. Conservation International has helped to create or directly support more than 20% of this area.
Billions of people depend on the ocean. How should we protect it?
Billions of people depend on the ocean for their food and livelihoods. The marine life that provide it — whether it’s fish to eat or whales that fuel tourism economies — must be managed carefully and sustainably.
To effectively conserve marine ecosystems — and provide benefits to the people who depend on them — Conservation International has led the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world. From village-level to country-level, MPAs have a proven track record of success. Conservation International builds on this success with its pioneering Seascape approach, which builds partnerships among local decision-makers to sustainably manage large, multiple-use ocean areas.
What is a marine protected area (MPA)?
A marine protected area is an internationally recognized area of ocean (or of land and ocean combined) where human activities such as tourism, development and fishing are managed to ensure sustainability.
What is a Seascape?
Conservation International defines a Seascape as a large, multiple-use marine area where governments, businesses, communities and other stakeholders work together to conserve marine ecosystems and to promote human well-being.
Protecting oceans, by the numbers
Protecting oceans, by the numbers
In these MPAs, all human activities — from large-scale shipping to small-scale fishing — are regulated.
Conservation International's work in Indonesia's Bird's Head Seascape has led to a 90% decrease in illegal fishing and a 30% increase in tourism.
Why are seascapes important?
Marine ecosystems and the species that flourish within them have incredible value — both to natural functions such as climate change mitigation and to the coastal communities that depend on them. With the Seascapes approach, Conservation International seeks to improve human well-being and ecosystem health, which are intricately linked. We support a long-term commitment to an area as well as building up local capacity among our partners. Working with partners means more resources as well as complementary strengths and institutions that can stand the test of time.
Working with local partners in eight countries, Conservation International has been instrumental in improving management across four Seascapes: Abrolhos Seascape in Brazil; Bird’s Head Seascape in Indonesia; Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador; and Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
What is the seascape approach?
The Seascape approach merges community-based conservation with well-defined end goals known as the “Nine Essential Elements of a Functional Seascape."
1. Create enabling conditions through legal frameworks
Seascapes generate an enabling framework of laws, conventions, regulations and policies that facilitate marine conservation at local, national and regional scales.© Cat Holloway
2. Create enabling conditions through adequate institutions
Seascapes build adequate institutional frameworks and capacity, including personnel, infrastructure, and equipment, to make marine governance structures (governmental, commercial and civil) work effectively.© CI/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn
3. Create enabling conditions through social and political support
Seascapes increase the social and political viability of marine conservation, and they build broad support at all scales, from stakeholders in local marine managed areas to natural leaders.© Kevin Davidson
4. Build effective management through private sector engagement
Seascapes promote convergence between conservation and development by linking the viability and profitability of major economic activities with sustainable management of the ecosystem.© Cat Holloway
5. Build effective management through ecosystem-based management
Seascapes advance large-scale management of marine ecosystems through the use of multidisciplinary scientific information to inform effective planning, implementation and monitoring.© Keith A. Ellenbogen
6. Build effective management through sustainable financing and market mechanisms
Seascapes strive to be financially sustainable, with funding portfolios that are stable, diverse, and large enough to implement all priority marine conservation activities.© Gary Stokes
7. Generate outcomes through maintenance and restoration of priority habitats and ecosystems
Seascapes maintain or restore critical habitats and ecosystems so that ecological processes and ecosystem services are sustained.© Luciano Candisani/iLCP
8. Generate outcomes through threatened species recovery
Seascapes reverse declining population trends for threatened marine species.© Cat Holloway
9. Generate outcomes through human well-being benefits
Seascapes improve the social, economic, and cultural well-being of human communities dependent of marine and coastal resources and ecosystems.© World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Matthew Abbott© Conservation International/photo by John Martin
In the Field
The Bird’s Head Seascape in Indonesia is a network of 12 MPAs covering more than 3.6 million hectares (8.9 million acres) — and is considered the global epicenter of marine biodiversity.
Why does the Seascapes approach work?
Management at scale
Conservation works best when it is at scale, taking into account an entire area rather than dividing it up. Seascapes are designed to be large enough to encompass different levels of government, but not too large to manage effectively. Having local support and input alongside the reach and impact of government increases the likelihood of conservation success.
The scope of sustainability
Due to their size, Seascapes come with a broad range of issues — and perspectives — to consider. That’s why we integrate our work across different sectors (public, private, government, community) and uses of marine resources, linking modern tools with traditional knowledge to ensure a sustainable management plan that is stable and successful in the long term.
A shared commitment
To be successful, Seascapes require long-term commitment — more than a decade — from the partners involved. Conservation International has successfully implemented marine management programs for more than 12 years, ensuring commitments from dozens of partners, resulting in the protection of millions of acres of ocean — and supporting the communities that depend on the ocean for their food and their livelihoods in the process.
Seascapes around the world
More of our work
© CI/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn
© CI/Sterling Zumbrunn
© Robin Moore/iLCP
© Keith A. Ellenbogen
© CI/photo by Mark Erdmann