Intention and Commitment


Organization and administration

Informal Network

Big Ocean members and partners participate voluntarily. As a non-binding entity, the activities and commitments made by the network (or subset of the network) are also non-binding and carried forward by members and partners who find value in the effort. To date, the decision to forgo a formal charter or operating agreement has remained but member sites hold the understanding that this could change over time as the network grows.

Peer Learning

As a global network, communication with and between members is conducted mostly through e-mail and our web site. Business meetings are coincidentally to international meetings and conferences that provide an opportunity for direct engagement and relationship building. Business meetings allow managers and partners to offer site updates, share lessons-learned, discuss current and potential initiatives, and make decisions that support the aims of Big Ocean. Various other network activities, from hands-on workshops to product development, are also employed to build capacity and further professionalize the field of large-scale MPA management.

Planning Team & Organization

Big Ocean is administered through its Planning Team and Coordinator. Established at the inaugural meeting, the Planning Team operates carries the largest share of the workload, managing costs of operations, and fundraising. On average, meetings are held every 4-6 weeks to coordinate annual meeting, activities and initiatives, and to consider proposals and make recommendations to the full membership. The Coordinator serves as the liaison between the Team and network, and the network and the public. Additional information link to the Our Team page and member site galleries.


Our Approach


What we do

Big Ocean seeks to engage in a variety of activities and initiatives, as well as create products that produce tangible, practical outcomes. Although there is usually overlap between the purpose and benefits of any activity the network has created three general approaches to accomplishing our purpose and aims.

Capacity Building

expanding the skills and professional experience of member site staff to improve operations at the site level and to enhance functioning of the network. Activities include: business meetings, staff exchanges and joint research cruises.


enhancing the development, collection, analysis and sharing of information (and knowledge) internally and externally. Activities include: membership surveys, outreach materials, maintaining a presence on the web and across social media, and presentations at international conferences.

Product Development

the creation of tools and services that enhance management efforts; improve the design, establishment and long-term management of large-scale MPAs; increase the effectiveness of management actions; and further professionalize the field. Examples of tools an services include: Learning Exchanges, the Shared Research Agenda for Large-Scale Marine Managed Areas (published 2012), and Management Guidelines for Large-Scale MPAs (in development).