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"What is a marine protected area?"

The IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature - defines a marine protected area as "a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed by  legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values".

This aim is often associated with a local objective of achieving socio-economic development or combined with sustainable management of resources. Different types of bodies (local, national) with varying statuses and methods of governance may be responsible for management.

What the MAIA database is not...

Information given on the MPA data sheets about the marine species and marine habitats found should not be considered reference information.

New species are frequently identified and the systematics change regularly; only official national databases, having a complex validation system and compiling information from various sources, are reference databases.

In France, the official database of natural species and habitats is that of the INPN (Inventaire National du Patrimoine Naturel) the register of which is TAXREF; globally, the official database is the WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species), which receives input from the European register (ERMS), itself fed by the national registers.

Eventually, once the techniques operational, MAIA will be able to receive and process data flows from these bases and thus present comprehensive official information about species and habitats.

A MAIA database?

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From the outset of the project, MAIA partners highlighted the need to share formal, up-to-date information about marine protected areas in the Atlantic arc. This requirement is in fact included in the project document.

Standardising data among countries, but also providing information to the public (Aarhus convention and EU Directive INSPIRE) are the future challenges public authorities will be facing and major principles which MAIA strives to apply.

Aims of the MAIA database

Atlantic arc MPA information is collected and structured (developing and implementing the MAIA geographic database) to achieve three main aims:

Improve knowledge and understanding of MPAs in the Atlantic arc (among countries and stakeholders);

Improve sharing of geo-referenced data relating to MPAs - Improve and facilitate access to this data;

Review the status of the Atlantic arc MPA network with regard to international objectives (OSPAR in particular).


Main aims


Short term (2012)

Improve knowledge and understanding of MPAs in the Atlantic arc (among countries).

Have a clearer view of the Atlantic arc MPA network.

Strengthen a common culture and knowledge.

Improve sharing of geo-referenced data relating to MPAs - Improve and facilitate access to this data.

Gather and structure existing information in a single geographic information system.

Make data available (download and interoperability) in line with the Aarhus convention and the INSPIRE directive.

Help managers disseminate their data more easily.

Enable stakeholders (managers, users of the sea, institutions) to consult official, up-to-date data.

Review the status of the Atlantic arc MPA network with regard to international objectives (OSPAR).

Draft a report presenting the status of the Atlantic arc MPA network by the end of the project.

Facilitate data collection and analysis.

Identify missing data.

Long term

Identify network-wide problems.

Pay more attention to connectivity within the network.

Conduct follow-up across the Atlantic arc.



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