Big Ocean


Building capacity

Big Ocean is the only peer-learning network created ‘by managers for managers’ (and managers in the making) of large-scale marine areas. Since its inception in 2010, our network has grown from six to 17 sites. Members are the large-scale MPAs as represented by their management teams. Our focus is management and best practice, which is vital to the future of the field. Our goal is to support each other and the growing field of large-scale MPAs. Our purpose is to develop and enhance the professional standards of practice, and long-term, effective management of large-scale marine areas.

Our Aims are straight forward

  • Provide a forum for communication and networking through which managers of large-scale MPAs can improve their management efforts.

  • Understand the unique social, cultural and ecological values of large-scale MPAs.

  • Contribute to the protection of our world’s oceans by working together and sharing resources, as well as supporting effective management and sound scientific research.

  • Communicate the conclusions and findings of the network’s efforts.

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Future of the Field

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Charting a new course

Although only a handful of large-scale MPAs have existed long enough to provide active, ongoing management experience, there is now an opportunity for learning and synergy between and among the full range of MPA communities. Building the skills necessary to transform real–world experience into improved judgement and an increased ability to employ sound ocean governance. 

As technology opens up new possibilities, it will also increase pressures on the ocean. This in turn will likely challenge even the most robust of management regimes. Big Ocean aims to help by adding expertise to the field and support the development of additional tools and resources for existing and new sites. As for proposed sites, they bring the promise that new and better approaches and designs can be forged to ensure that both humans and the natural world are considered in the development of national policies and commitments aimed at enhancing governance of the world's oceans. 

Most important may be the role of best practice large-scale MPA management, as Big Ocean aims to grow the body of knowledge and expertise needed to help address threats and resource management needs in the high seas. Developing this new frontier is essential if we hope to create confidence in the ability of nations to collectively design management tools for the 64% of the global oceans that lie beyond national jurisdictions.


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