Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) represent the main tool for halting the loss of marine biodiversity. However, there are increasing concerns on their limited capacity to reduce or eliminate some threats even within their own boundaries.

This study analyzed a Europe-wide dataset comprising 31,579 threats recorded in 1,692 sites of the European Union’s Natura 2000 conservation network.

The results show that, focusing specifically on threats related to marine species and habitats, fishing and outdoor activities were the most widespread threats reported within MPA boundaries, although some spatial heterogeneity in the distribution of threats was apparent.

The authors state that the obtained results clearly demonstrate the need to reconsider current management plans, standardise monitoring approaches and reporting, refine present threat assessments and improve knowledge of their spatial patterns within and outside MPAs in order to improve conservation capacity and outcomes.

Mazaris et al. (2019) Threats to marine biodiversity in European protected areas. Science of the Total Environment 677:418-426.