Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designated areas in the ocean or nearshore environment which aim to protect living, non-living, cultural and/or historical resources. There are seven Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the CNMI, including five fully "No-take" Marine Protected Areas and two Species-specific reserves. These special conservation zones protect our fish, corals, and invertebrates. They serve as safe havens for marine organisms to grow and reproduce in areas free from fishing pressure. Certain activities are restricted within these MPAs, and each area has unique rules. MPAs in the Commonwealth include marine conservation areas, sanctuaries, and reserves. In the CNMI, MPAs are created via legislative act, local law, or regulation. Special rules applying to marine reserves can be found on the Fishing Regulations Summary page. A quick reference on MPA laws and regulations is available for natural resource managers and MPA stakeholders.

All MPAs are managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife. These conservation areas differ in terms of goals and purpose and they offer many opportunites for exploration and enjoyment. Please click on the names of the MPAs below for more information and to view detailed maps of each area.

For the precise location of MPA boundaries, GIS map layers are available courtesy of CNMI Coastal Resources Management.

Mañagaha Marine Conservation Area
Mañagaha Marine Conservation Area Boundaries (Click to enlarge)

The Mañagaha Marine Conservation Area (MMCA)) is a "no-take" area, which surrounds tiny Mañagaha Island on Saipan's western barrier reef. It was created with the enactment of CNMI Public Law 12-12 in order to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources of the island and surrounding waters, and is currently managed within the guidelines of the Mañagaha Marine Conservation Area Management Plan. Because the MMCA is a "no take" area, it is illegal to catch or remove any species, damage habitat, feed fish, and collect shells, sand or corals.

Mañagaha island is maintained as an uninhabited place and used only for cultural and recreational purposes. The island is highly visited by locals and tourists due to its beautiful recreational shoreline, vibrant nearshore area, and peaceful island atmosphere. It is also the burial site of Carolinian Chief Aghurubw who established the first Carolinian settlement on Saipan during the Spanish colonial period.

Within the Mañagaha Marine Conservation Area's 500 hectares are at least 240 species of hard corals, 31 species of soft corals and sea fans, and more than 100 fish species as well as green sea turtles. The MMCA supports adjacent fisheries by providing a safe-haven for a multitude of fish species to reproduce and grow without pressure from fishing activities.

Bird Island Marine Sanctuary
Forbidden Island Marine Sanctuary
Sasanhaya Bay Fish Reserve (Luta)
Tinian Marine Reserve
Lau Lau Bay Sea Cucumber Sanctuary
Lighthouse Reef Trochus Sanctuary


For information on CNMI's 7 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), their rules and how you can protect them, check out this video.
Love Managaha? Watch this short informational video about the Managaha Marine Conservation Area, one of Saipan's 7 Marine Protected Areas (MPAS)