Aichi target 11 recommends that ecologically representative portions (10%) of important coastal and marine areas be set aside within MPAs. Despite global progress in attaining the 10% target, few areas are set aside with consideration of ecological representation as a conservation goal.

This study assessed, using publicly available datasets of marine geomorphic features and benthic habitats, the relative representativeness of features, by assessing feature coverage and diversity, within existing protected areas of both Large Marine Ecosystem (LMEs) and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

The results show that only 18 of the 66 LMEs contained greater than 10% of their marine geomorphic features and benthic habitats within MPAs. The Caribbean, Pacific Central, Mediterranean and Canary Current LMEs were identified as areas that protected the most diversity, while the geomorphically diverse Artic Ocean had the least area of features within MPAs. It is highlighted that less than one quarter of EEZs had more than 10% of their geomorphic features and benthic habitats within MPAs.

It is suggested that assessing the coverage and diversity of protected features within EEZs and LMEs can assist nation states and ecosystem management regions to better assess representativeness achieving the 2020 Aichi targets.

Fisher et al. (2018) Existing global marine protected area network is not representative or comprehensive measured against seafloor geomorphic features and benthic habitats. Ocean & Coastal Management 167:176-187.