Scientific Principles for Design of Marine Protected Areas in Australia: A Guidance Statement 

Scientific knowledge has a key role in informing the application of the CAR principles for the establishment of the NRSMPA, however the scientific evidence available to implement the principles is in some instances insufficient. Scientists with qualifications and research experience in the planning and management of marine protected areas have identified the need for a guidance statement to better support the design and planning of Australia's National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

CAR principles as defined for the NRSMPA

Comprehensiveness The NRSMPA will include the full range of ecosystems recognized at an appropriate scale within and across each bioregion.
Adequacy The NRSMPA will have the required level of reservation to ensure the ecological viability and integrity of populations, species and communities.
Representativeness Those marine areas that are selected for inclusion in MPAs should reasonably reflect the biotic diversity of the marine ecosystems from which they derive.





The purpose of the guidance statement is to:

  • provide a clear science-based guidance on design principles and criteria for the selection, design, and implementation of Australia's National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas;
  • promote a scientifically rigorous application of the CAR principles; and
  • promote consistent interpretation and operational application of the CAR principles nationally.

The Guidance Statement

The guidance statement is available for download in pdf format (237 KB)

Drafting of the statement has been led by researchers from the University of Queensland's Ecology Centre.  Development of the statement has been informed by a literature review, an invited experts workshop, an open forum of experts, and direct engagement with scientists who have detailed scientific knowledge and experience of the issues.  The statement thus represents a broad consensus of the contributed opinions of more that 40 scientists active in this field of research.  The emphasis is on the examination and interpretation of evidence to identify a set of operational principles relevant to the scientific aspects of MPA selection, design, and implementation.

How you can contribute

We welcome the endorsement of the guidance statement by professional scientists active in this field of research, and any scientific research organisation with a direct and active interest in MPA selection, design, and implementation.  

Professional scientists and their organisations may provide an endorsement and provide feedback via the endorsements page. The endorsements will be displayed on the endorsements page (commences June 2009) and updated monthly until April 2010.  


We are pleased to recognise and acknowledge the freely-offered and excellent comments that have been contributed by the scientists identified in the statement.  We acknowledge that the final text may nonetheless contain some opinions that are not necessarily fully supported by scientific evidence, and that such matters are inevitably subject to fine-scale debate because the science-base is still somewhat unclear.  We therefore thank the contributing scientists for maintaining their support for the broad consensus of their opinions and contributions as shown in the statement.


For the purpose of tracking the uptake/use of the guidance statement we would appreciate a notification of any citation or uses of the statement for MPA purposes.