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What are MPAs? New Program with Marine Conservation Institute Educates Guests

As part of its “Our Marvelous Oceans” partnership with Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line has created a new program that highlights and educates cruise guests and crew about marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world through onboard presentations by shipboard personnel.

Topics will cover what a marine protected area is and how to visit one without causing harm to the habitat and wildlife. This information can be enhanced through participation in featured shore excursions.

“The goal of this partnership is to promote marine protected areas around the world — especially in those regions where our ships sail. The new program also will create enrichment opportunities for guests to learn more about these important conservation locations,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “Together with Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line shares a belief in our responsibility to protect the oceans, and together we want to educate our guests and crew about these special places and about how we can collectively make a difference.”

In the Caribbean the program will largely focus on marine life and a variety of tropical ecosystems. For example, in Key West, Fla., guests can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to see the area’s beautiful coral reefs. Or in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cruisers can embark on a unique nighttime kayak adventure into the bio-luminescent bay at Laguna Grande of Fajardo to learn about the water’s organisms and see how they “light up” at night. Guest “GoBlueGirl” took the tour and had this to say:

The bio-luminescent kayak trip was AMAZING! … Upon reaching the bay near dusk, we were beginning to doubt the bio-luminescence of the water… but we didn’t have to wait long before we were proven wrong! It. Was. Awesome. The tour guides provided an excellent description of the organisms that create the illumination and the history of other locations in the world that these organisms live. Once we were able to paddle around to experience the bay on our own — we found an area that fish were VERY active in … I won’t say more — experience it for yourself. Do it. You won’t regret it.

In Australia and New Zealand, regional programs include a nature cruise to observe Hector’s dolphins at the Akaroa Marine Reserve in New Zealand.

Guests get to explore an MPA on the tour to the Akaroa Marine Reserve in New Zealand.

Guests get to explore an MPA on the tour to the Akaroa Marine Reserve in New Zealand.

I absolutely loved this excursion. We sailed right from the ship into Akaroa Harbor. Excellent narration. We saw cormorants, dolphins, penguins, seals, and an albatross. It was the perfect amount of time, dropping us off at Akaroa pier just in time to get lunch and explore the beautiful town. — Guest “Nikjil”

These are just a few of the excursions offered by Holland America Line that feature marine protected areas.

The “Our Marvelous Oceans” partnership began in 2010 and will continue through 2016. The goal of the program is to educate guests and crew about marine conservation issues, including this new focus on sensitive marine protected areas. Holland America Line also continues to work with Marine Conservation Institute to provide sustainable seafood options for its guests and also features an in-stateroom video series onboard all 15 ships highlighting the importance of ocean conservation.

Here are just a few examples:

“We are excited to create another meaningful program in partnership with Holland America Line,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute. “Marine protected areas are an important tool for safeguarding critical ecological places around the world, yet they receive little attention and awareness. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring more focus on these special ocean places.”

About Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas are ocean places that are designated by government or international authorities to conserve marine life such as corals, fishes and dolphins. Similar to parks on land, these underwater preserves are recognized as important places for conservation because of their ecologic value.

Currently there are approximately 6,600 marine protected areas around the world, with varying levels of protection. Some do not allow human access. In those locations where human access is permitted, the specific activities that are allowed will vary depending on the designated degree of protection. Marine Conservation Institute is working to catalyze strong protection for at least 20 percent of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region of the world’s oceans by 2030. For more information on marine protected areas visit MPAtlas.org.

About Marine Conservation Institute
Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly experienced marine scientists and environmental policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help create an urgently needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas — the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) — a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure the future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to: www.marine-conservation.org.

Are you aware of MPAs? What are you looking forward to learning about on your next cruise?

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