NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas Center has created a first ever online inventory of the nation's marine protected areas (MPAs). This unique, comprehensive inventory catalogs and classifies marine protected areas within U.S. waters, and was developed with extensive input from state and federal MPA programs, as well as other publically available data. It provides baseline information that will contribute to the development of the National System of MPAs.

"This is a milestone in the development of a national system of marine protected areas," says John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator of the National Ocean Service. "Not only will the MPA Inventory be a key resource for nominating eligible sites to the national system, but it will also serve as a valuable tool for MPA managers and stakeholders, enabling them to make more informed decisions about current and future management of our nation's marine resources."

The MPA Inventory, posted on http://www.MPA.gov, contains a range of information on each protected area established or managed by federal, state, or territorial agencies or programs. For each site, it includes the following information: site name, region, level of government, level of protection, permanence, constancy, scale of protection, conservation focus, primary conservation focus, fishing restrictions, and area. Both tabular and GIS spatial data can be downloaded, as well as mapping products and analysis reports created using the MPA Inventory data.