Sustainable Development Goals - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Indicator 14.5.1: Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas

Percent of U.S. marine waters in a natural or cultural heritage marine protected area


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This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from US statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from US statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other US-specific metadata information.

Actual indicator available Percent of U.S waters in an MPA
Actual indicator available - description Percent of U.S. marine waters in a natural or cultural heritage marine protected area
Date of national source publication Fall 2017
Method of computation The indicator is computed by dividing the total number of KBAs wholly covered by protected areas by the total number of KBAs in each country, and multiplying by 100. 'Wholly protected' is defined as >98% coverage to allow for resolution and digitisation errors in the underlying spatial datasets.
Periodicity Annual, as needed
Scheduled update by national source Annual, as needed
U.S. method of computation Area coverage of all U.S. natural and cultural heritage MPAs relative to total area of U.S. marine waters Including bays, estauries and Great Lakes). Protected areas that include terrestrial areas are clipped to include only marine portion in area statistics.
Comments and limitations Based on national scale GIS-based area calculations (using the World Eckert IV projection, an equal-area pseudocylindrical map projection).
Date metadata updated November 2017
Disaggregation geography National
Unit of measurement Percent
Disaggregation categories
International and national references
Time period
Scheduled update by SDG team

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas
Target name By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.
Global indicator description Definition The percentage of marine sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity that are wholly covered by designated protected areas. It is a thematic disaggregation of the multi-purpose indicator for protected area coverage of important sites. Concepts Protected areas, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are clearly defined geographical spaces, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. Importantly, a variety of specific management objectives are recognised within this definition, spanning conservation, restoration, and sustainable use: Category Ia: Strict nature reserve Category Ib: Wilderness area Category II: National park Category III: Natural monument or feature Category IV: Habitat/species management area Category V: Protected landscape/seascape Category VI: Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources The status "designated" is attributed to a protected area when the corresponding authority, according to national legislation or common practice (e.g., by means of an executive decree or the like), officially endorses a document of designation. The designation must be made for the purpose of biodiversity conservation, not de facto protection arising because of some other activity (e.g., military). Sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity are identified following globally standard criteria applied at national levels. Two variants of these standard criteria have been applied in all countries to date. The first is for the identification of Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), that is, sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, identified using data on birds, of which >12,000 sites in total have been identified from all of the world's countries. The second is for the identification of Alliance for Zero Extinction sites (AZEs), that is, sites holding effectively the entire population of at least one species assessed as Critically Endangered or Endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In total, 587 AZE sites have been identified for 920 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, conifers, and reef-building corals. A global standard for the identification of key biodiversity areas (KBAs) unifying these approaches along with other mechanisms for identification of important sites for other species and ecosystems is in the final stages of development and anticipated to be in place by the end of 2015. Marine sites are defined as those identified for marine species or ecosystems, as documented in the IUCN Red List Habitats Classification Scheme.
UN designated tier 1
UN custodial agency UNEP-WCMC, UNEP (Partnering Agencies: Ramsar)
Link to UN metadata Link opens in a new window
Organisation NOAA MPA Inventory
Agency Staff Name NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center
Agency Survey Dataset NOAA MPA Inventory
Link to data source opens in a new window

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