Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Regions of the World

Shapefile of marine protected areas (MPAs) in coral reef regions of the world, including scores of management effectiveness. Sites were scored based on surveys and expert opinion using a 3-point scale as follows: 1) Effective--site is managed sufficiently well that in situ threats are not undermining natural ecosystem function; 2) Partially effective--site is managed such that in situ threats are significantly lower than adjacent non-managed sites, but there may still be some detrimental effects on ecosystem function; and 3) Not Effective--site is unmanaged, or management is insufficient to reduce in situ threats in any meaningful way.

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This dataset is part of the base data used for Reefs at Risk Revisited.

To assess the level of protection and management for coral reefs around the world. The map of MPAs and associated management effectiveness scores were used to adjust pressure from overfishing and destructive fishing in the Reefs at Risk Revisited model (the overfishing threat was reduced one level for partially effective MPAs and two levels for effective MPAs).

The definition of a coral reef MPA for the Reefs at Risk Revisited project includes all sites that overlap with coral reefs on the map (1,712 sites), but also those that are known (from a variety of sources) to contain reefs. To these we added a third category-sites considered likely to contain reefs or reef species. These are the sites with offshore or subtidal areas that occur within 20 km of a coral reef. We included these sites to avoid missing key MPAs due to mapping errors or inaccuracies. For example, we lack accurate boundary information for some MPAs, while reef maps themselves are also missing some areas of reef (notably small isolated patches or coral communities that are too small or deep to be properly mapped). The primary source for this information is the World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA) polygon and point shapefiles, which provided the majority of sites. For WDPA point data, the points were buffered to the documented area of the MPA as listed in WDPA. If the documented area was blank or unknown, the MPA received a default area of 1 ha. In addition, Reef Base provided information on over 600 LMMAs for Pacific Islands and in the Phillipines. The Nature Conservancy provided data on over 100 additional sites in Indonesia, while reviewers provided about 50 additional sites. For the analysis, we differentiated the nine different management zones within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The combined areas in each zone are substantial, and each zone offers strikingly different levels of protection. The final map of sites is the most comprehensive listing ever produced for coral reef areas globally.


Data set is not for use in litigation. While efforts have been made to ensure that these data are accurate and reliable, WRI cannot assume liability for any damages or misrepresentations caused by any inaccuracies in the data, or as a result of the data used on a particular system. WRI makes no warranty, expressed or implied, nor does the fact of distribution constitute such a warranty.


Burke, L., K. Reytar, M. Spalding, and A. Perry. Reefs at Risk Revisited. (Washington, DC, USA: World Resources Institute, 2011).

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License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Full license text available at Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


Project: Reefs at Risk

Page Last Updated: August 19, 2016

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