Marine protected areas are areas of the ocean set aside from human activity. They're often pristine areas or biodiverse hot spots that need a break from fishing or boating or other kinds of activities. Here's a more official definition from Wikipedia: "MPAs protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. Protections in various areas range from limits on development, fishing gear types, fishing seasons, catch limits, moorings, to complete bans on removing marine life of any kind."
It's been shown that MPAs can help drive healthy oceans (think biodiversity) and often give depleted fish stocks a much-needed breather on their way to (hopefully) recovery.
Although less than 2% of the world's oceans are protected this way, it's still good to hear there are 5,000 MPAs and counting. Here's to another 5,000 sooner than later.
Photo courtesy of National Geographic