Ocean Policy: Marine Protected Areas

Tahiti to Fiji




Marine protected areas play a vital role in addressing climate change, safeguarding ecosystems, and promoting research and education.

Ocean acidification; overfishing; marine heat waves; expansion of oxygen minimum zones; marine plastic pollution; deep sea mining- the threats to our ocean environment are many; however, there is a growing international consensus that these are global problems requiring large-scale global solutions.   

To meet these growing challenges, several international initiatives, both by governments and eNGOs have been launched. Most recently, the successful UN negotiation for a new international treaty for the governance of the high seas was concluded in 2023 with a goal to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. 

Developing and maintaining these areas will require collaboration between governments, local communities, scientists, and conservation organizations. 

Students participating in this program can expect the following:

  • Conduct research and contribute to on going data sets
  • Contribute to marine conservation and policy efforts
  • Cultivate a comparative approach to understanding marine protected area management strategies

Summer 2024: Tahiti to Fiji

June 10  – July 17, 2024

June 10 – June 18, 2024: Remote shore component in Tahiti

June 19 – July 17, 2024: At sea

Port stops:

Cook Islands, Palmerston, and Vava’u

*Port stops are subject to change

Be sure to check out student blogs from past programs.

Program Blogs

Program Description

Ocean Policy: Marine Protected Areas provides students the opportunity to utilize scientific research to understand evidence-based policies and regulations that guide ocean conservation and management. 

During the shore component in Tahiti, students will learn from local communities and organizations about the ongoing efforts to establish and maintain marine protected areas within the region. Students will examine case studies to better understand how the integration of traditional ecological knowledge provides successful policy framework. Students will learn skills in oceanographic research, and the use of satellite remote sensing techniques for research and monitoring of the high seas.  

While sailing from Tahiti to Fiji, students will gain hands on experience by deploying scientific equipment and analyzing samples in the lab aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans.  Data collected from the voyage will be shared with partner governments and institutions to contribute to their on-going data sets and to initiate new monitoring to understand future changes both in and outside of large scale Marine Protected Areas.

Academic Credit

This program carries 7 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Comparative and issue-driven introduction to managing human uses and conserving coastal and ocean places and resources.  Explore concepts of technology, governance, sector and ecosystem management, and marine protected areas through expert content lectures, topical seminars, and field trips.

Sample Syllabus

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Ocean ecosystem change in the anthropocene: warming, acidification, fisheries depletion, and pollution. Review principles of circulation, seawater chemistry, nutrient dynamics, and biological production to understand causes and consequences of change. Conduct field measurements for contribution to time-series datasets.


Syllabi for previous years are available for review. Detailed course content for future programs is dependent on cruise track, seasons, port stops, current events and faculty, and will be available closer to the program start date.


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