Shallow Seas
Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas

Human activity can threaten the balance between organisms and their environment. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important conservation tool for protecting marine ecosystems from overfishing and habitat loss. Project Seahorse has been leading MPA research and implementation for over a decade

We have catalysed creation of 34 no-take marine reserves in the Philippines and provided support for development of a further six reserves; helped to establish guardhouses and provide patrol boats for communities to enforce marine reserves; and undertaken long-term research that has revealed measurable increases in fish numbers in these reserves.


  • Establishing no-take marine protected areas for conservation and food security (Philippines)
  • Comparing community-driven and scientific approaches to selecting the locations of MPAs (Canada).
  • Changes in fish populations in response to marine protected areas (Philippines).
  • Using long-term data sets to look at the effectiveness of marine management areas (Philippines)
  • Studying the biological, socio-economic and anthropological implications of establishing and managing MPAs (Philippines)

Program publications 

Anticamara, J. A., D. Zeller, and A. C. J. Vincent (2010) Spatial and temporal variation of abundance, biomass and diversity within marine reserves in the Philippines. Diversity and Distributions 16(4):529-536. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2010.00661.x

Pajaro, M.G., M.E. Mulrennan, J. Alder and A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Developing MPA effectiveness indicators: Comparison within and across stakeholder groups and communities. Coastal Management, 38(2):122-143. 

Pajaro, M.G., M.E. Mulrennan and A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Toward an integrated marine protected areas policy: connecting the global to the local. Environment, Development and Sustainability 12(6):945-965 DOI 10.1007/s10668-010-9233-0 

YasuĂ©, M., L. Kaufman and A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Assessing ecological changes in and around marine reserves using community perceptions and biological surveys. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems 20(4):407-418 DOI: 10.1002/aqc.1090 

Ban, N.C. (2009) Minimum data requirements for designing a set of marine protected areas, using commonly available abiotic and biotic datasets. Biodiversity and Conservation 18(7): 1829-1845 

Ban, N.C., Hansen, G.J.A., Jones, M. and A.C.J. Vincent (2009) Systematic marine conservation planning in data-poor regions: Socioeconomic data is essential. Marine Policy 33(5): 794-800 

Ban, N.C. and A.C.J. Vincent (2009) Beyond marine reserves: Exploring the approach of selecting areas where fishing is permitted, rather than prohibited. PLoS ONE 4(7): e6258 

Ban, N.C., C. Picard and A.C.J. Vincent (2009) Comparing and integrating community-based and science-based conservation approaches to prioritizing marine areas for protection. Conservation Biology23(4): 899-910 

Ban, N.C. and J. Alder (2008) How wild is the ocean? Assessing the intensity of anthropogenic marine activities in British Columbia, Canada. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 18(1): 55-85 

Ban, N.C., C. Picard, and A.C.J. Vincent (2008) Moving toward spatial solutions in marine conservation with indigenous communities. Ecology and Society 13(1):32 

Hall, M., D. Pauly, V. Conover, A.C.J. Vincent, K. Davis, C. Safina, G. Sugihara, U.R. Sumaila and T. Agardyhttp. (2007) 10 Solutions to Save the Ocean. Conservation 8(3):23 html

Samoilys, M.A., K.M. Martin-Smith, B.G. Giles, B. Cabrera, J.A. Anticamara, E.O. Brunio and A.C.J. Vincent (2007) Effectiveness of five small Philippines' coral reef reserves for fish populations depends on site-specific factors, particularly enforcement history. Biological Conservation 136(4):584-601