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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Marine Protected Areas

The Map of the Week shows the ratio of Marine Protected Area to terrestrial area for each European country.


On World Health Day on 7 April 2021, the World Health Organisation urged countries to build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19 and issued 5 calls for actions to meet this objective. Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Andersen, highlighted the importance of an all-of-society ‘One Health’ approach. [1] The health of animals, people, plants and the environment is interconnected. ‘One Health’ is an integrated approach that recognizes this fundamental relationship and ensures that specialists in multiple sectors work together to tackle health threats to animals, humans, plants and the environment. [2] Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, stated that “As we celebrate the 2021 World Health Day, we need all stakeholders to work together to make this year a critical turning point in our path towards a fairer and healthier word, where nature and biodiversity are recognized for their importance and true value to human health and wellbeing and where health equity to all is achieved, leaving no one behind.” [3]Biodiversity is essential to human health and well-being. [4] Preserving biodiversity is preserving our health.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been set up across the world’s oceans to protect vulnerable species and ecosystems, to conserve biodiversity and minimise extinction risk, to re-establish ecosystem integrity, to segregate uses to avoid user conflicts, and to enhance the productivity of fish and marine invertebrate populations. They provide a public focus for marine conservation and are commonly used around the world as management tools to promote the sustainable use of marine resources. Many MPAs also serve as living laboratories – critical to scientific research and discoveries that benefit humanity. When effectively managed, MPAs support the blue economy by helping to sustain fish stocks and bolstering tourism.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, developed in the framework of the European Green Deal, points out that nature is as important for our mental and physical wellbeing as it is for our society’s ability to cope with global change, health threats and disasters. Therefore, it sets several objectives including the protection of at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea in the European Union and the restoration of degraded ecosystems on land and at sea across the whole of Europe.

Dive into the Map of the Week to learn more about Marine Protected Areas. Wish to learn more about the links between ocean health and human health?

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The data in this map are provided by Eurostat.