Big Ocean is pleased to announce the release of a research agenda that highlights the unique scientific needs and challenges of large-scale marine protected areas (MPAs). The shared agenda provides a framework for collaborative research among Big Ocean sites, as well as other large MPAs.

The primary aims of this plan are to capitalize on collaborative and comparative research opportunities based on the scientific needs shared by large-scale MPAs, and to identify a set of research priorities to be jointly addressed by Big Ocean sites. The Research Agenda notes that large-scale MPAs contain entire, diverse and relatively pristine ecosystems, as well as larger scale natural processes that cannot be studied in their entirety in smaller regions.

“There are several factors that differentiate research conducted in large-scale MPAs from that done on smaller-scale protected areas,” said Daniel Wagner, PhD., research specialist at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaiʻi and lead author of the document. “Remote large-scale MPAs are detached from local stressors associated with human population centers. As such, they represent some of the greatest natural laboratories on the planet, which can be used as modern day baselines to quantify human impacts in more populated areas.”
Big Ocean’s A Shared Research Agenda For Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas is an outgrowth of a three-day Marine Conservation Think Tank held in December 2011 in conjunction with the 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology ( ICCB ) in New Zealand. At the Think Tank, Big Ocean facilitated an unprecedented gathering of managers and scientists to discuss the knowledge gaps, scientific needs and research priorities shared across large-scale MPAs, building the framework for this plan.

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