Marine Protected Areas - conserving the world's oceans


The Third International Marine Protected Areas Congress, Marseille, France


The Pharo Palace, Marseille © Hannah Carr_JNCC

The international target to protect ten percent of global oceans by 2020 was the focus of the third International Marine Protected Areas Congress attended by staff from JNCC’s Marine Protected Areas team. The Congress, which occurs every four years, is an opportunity for managers, scientists, politicians and stakeholders to discuss marine protected areas (MPAs) and the conservation of our oceans, and to share experiences with others on a global and regional level. This year’s congress was co-organised by the Agence des Aires Marines Protégées (French Marine Protected Areas Agency) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). JNCC staff, representing the UK, contributed to the Congress as workshop chairs, and contributors and provided poster presentations.  


Each day of the congress had an overarching theme. The main themes included:

  • science and knowledge in the service of effective management;
  • tools for MPA management and enforcement;
  • governance, partnerships and industry involvement; and
  • regional approaches.


The venue had a large exhibition area for stands, posters and visual media. JNCC staff attended many of the plenary sessions, workshops and knowledge cafes during the week and were involved in the co-ordination of workshops on:

  • creating and using marine habitat maps for MPA management;
  • Strategic Environmental Assessments: concepts, methods and lessons learned;
  • experiences with national MPA networks: guidelines and targets;
  • monitoring and assessing impacts on conservation features; and
  • governance for developing MPA networks.


Each day concluded in a wrap up session summarising outcomes and key messages. The six major recommendations arising from the congress were:

i) Mobilizing local and national networks, and binding them into a global network of marine protected areas, in order to make local approaches and global strategies converge;

ii) Opening up to the private sector, through partnerships that will forward governance and support spatial planning processes. The high seas are also concerned by this necessity;

iii) Urgently entering negotiations to reach and implement agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea geared at the conservation of the high seas, including the provision for the creation of high seas MPAs;

iv) The necessity of regional approaches, which constitute the appropriate scale to devise many solutions, particularly on governance issues;

v) The inadequacy of existing financing mechanisms: this finding of the congress requires that innovative, sustainable financing solutions be devised and that synergies be optimized between financing programs run by various funders and donors;

vi) the sea has cultural, philosophical and spiritual value. The congress stressed that taking into account this immaterial dimension is essential to engage society as a whole in the conservation of the oceans.


These recommendations were fed into a Minsiterial conference held in Ajaccio, Corsica after the core congress. One of the main messages arising from the Ministerial conference highlighted the need for conservation of the high seas through Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.


Chile will host the fourth International Marine Protected Areas Congress in 2017.


Find out more about the work of JNCC in relation to UK MPAs and view the UK MPA interactive map.



Contact File


Hannah Carr

Marine Protected Areas Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866937


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