We need the Global Ocean Refuge System to safeguard marine biodiversity.

How It Works

Marine Conservation Institute launched the Global Ocean Refuge System to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. The Global Ocean Refuge System is an innovative strategy to incentivize decision makers to establish protected areas that safeguard marine life and promote opportunities for sustainable tourism. We invite you to join us on our journey to secure lasting conservation for our oceans. 

The Challenge

Healthy oceans are essential to human survival and prosperity. Unfortunately, oceans are in deep trouble worldwide due to overfishing, climate change, industrialization, pollution and habitat destruction. These problems are rapidly getting worse, and our oceans are in a state of crisis.

A Global Network of Effective Marine Protected Areas

The Global Ocean Refuge System aims to safeguard marine biodiversity by assembling a strategic network of effective marine protected areas (MPAs) that includes replicate representation of all marine habitats in each biogeographic region and supports marine population persistence.

Global Ocean Refuge Awards incentivize MPAs that meet science-based standards for effectiveness.

The Global Ocean Refuge System supports MPA efforts around the world, complementing the advocacy of conservation groups working to implement MPAs and meet international MPA commitments.

Becoming a Global Ocean Refuge is a 4-step process.

Designed to greatly expand the number and efficacy of marine protected areas, the Global Ocean Refuge System complements on-the-ground conservation efforts. The core elements are:

First, the science-based standards for Global Ocean Refuges are the product of a partnership among marine biologists and conservationists from across the globe and across sectors. The Global Ocean Refuge System provides a scientifically credible designation for marine protected areas that integrates marine ecology principles such as biogeography, ecological spatial connectivity and resilience.

Second, the Global Ocean Refuge System provides a comprehensive, global conservation framework. Many organizations are creating marine protected areas one at a time, focusing on the objectives of an individual site, but not necessarily on recovering populations or maintaining the ocean’s resilience to future threats. The Global Ocean Refuge System advances and connects these efforts by providing a roadmap for integrating existing efforts and conserving ecologically important areas and representative habitats within one system.

Third, working with partners, such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Global Ocean Refuge System integrates management and monitoring effectiveness into its standards.

Lastly, and very significantly, Global Ocean Refuge Awards provide a substantial incentive for marine protection by publicly celebrating the outstanding conservation work of communities and managers. The award, which confers prestige, funding leverage and ecotourism opportunities, aligns governments' interests with biodiversity conservation. Global Ocean Refuge status also provides a benchmark that both private and governmental funders can use to measure the impacts of their investments.