NOAA launches interactive MPA mapping tool

09 Apr 2010

NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center has created a new interactive online mapping tool that, for the first time, allows users to view boundaries and access data for more than a thousand marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States.

“Our staff get calls from people who want to know more about the management of their local waters. This new mapping tool provides a snapshot of what activities are allowed and how people can get more information about MPAs,” said Joseph Uravitch, director of NOAA’s MPA Center. “The site brings together information from dozens of management agencies creating an efficient one-stop resource.”

MPAs are conservation areas that include the marine environment, such as some National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, National Marine Sanctuaries and similar areas managed by state, local and tribal governments. The mapping tool allows users to view all the MPAs in a specific location or across an entire region, as well as search for specific attributes, including conservation purpose, managing agency and level of protection, among others.

Data for the mapping tool comes from the newly updated MPA Inventory, a comprehensive database on existing US MPAs. Originally launched in June 2008, the inventory contains a range of information on each of the 1,637 protected areas established or managed by federal, state, or territorial agencies or programs. Data was collected from most management agencies and programs and is current as of January 2010. The mapping tool can be accessed at www.mpa.gov/mpaviewer.

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