The 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 over a thousand marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States. The new MPA mapping tool provides a user friendly online interface to explore MPA information that was previously limited to expert GIS users. The tool provides simple functions to visualize MPA boundaries, review MPA classification information (e.g. level of protection, managing agency, fishing restrictions, etc) and explore all MPAs in a given location. Additional functions allow users to filter sites by certain attributes (e.g. show only sites that prohibit commercial fishing or that are managed by a certain agency). The mapping tool can be accessed at www.mpa.gov/mpaviewer.
Data for the mapping tool is from the newly updated MPA Inventory, a comprehensive database on existing U.S. MPAs. Originally launched in June 2008, the inventory contains a range of information on each of the 1,619 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 updated MPA Inventory can be accessed at www.mpa.gov/dataanalysis/mpainventory/.
The launch of the MPA mapping tool is part of a broader update of the MPA Center 's Web site. Comprehensive information on ocean uses for the entire California coast is also available on the website. This data was collected through a series of workshops that brought together resource managers, stakeholders and scientists to map patterns of human uses of the ocean in California. The California Ocean Uses Atlas data is available at www.mpa.gov/atlas.