A Marine Protected Area is an area of sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means (IUCN - The World Conservation Union).
Marine Protected Areas are designated for the protection of the marine environment and the life that it supports. The main aim is to protect habitats and species that are threatened, a result of various factors, amongst which anthropogenic influences. The designation of such areas is of utmost importance also so as to ensure that future generations can enjoy the full benefits of the marine environment.
The Mediterranean Sea is characterised by great species diversity, and so are the Maltese waters per se. Hence, it is important to protect sites of great natural value. Indeed, Malta has two Marine Protected Areas designated under the Environment Protection Act, and further work is ongoing for the designation of further sites.
It is important to note that Marine Protected Areas do not exclude access to humans. Their designation encourages the sustainable use of marine resources, also ensuring that any activities do not have a negative impact on the area, especially on the biodiversity that such an environment supports.