For the purposes of launching Big Ocean, the following definition of large-scale MPA was used:
A marine conservation area over 100,000 miles squared (258,998 kilometers squared) in size that is actively managed for protection across the entire geographic boundary of the site … the term does not apply to geographic designations of habitat, foraging areas or harvest restrictions that are not also accompanied by a corresponding management regime, agency or consortium of agencies.
This definition was chosen for a variety of reasons but mainly to emphasize active management. As a network of managers Big Ocean aims to focus on management and to work with others who are endeavoring to put into place strong management measures in order to achieve the purposes and goals of their respective sites, not to promote large-scale MPAs or grapple with the various definitions of MPAs.
Additionally, when research was conducted on the actual size of large-scale sites around the globe, using various databases, there was natural clustering of sites that were 100,000 square kilometers or less and those that were 100,000 square miles or more. The clear dividing point was between the five largest existing and two proposed sites, and that of the eight next largest sites. Ultimately, the 100,000 square mile mark was a practical starting place and is not a figure aimed to exclude.
Big Ocean welcomes other member sites, as well as proposed sites and other partners who share our aims and are focused on peer learning and improving the professional practice of large-scale marine management and protection.