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Global targets for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have evolved in response to rising global concerns about the health of the world's oceans and numerous scientific studies demonstrating the benefits of MPAs as a conservation tool. Our research paper analyses the research needs required to address stakeholder and government concerns from both developed and developing State viewpoints, and build a greater understanding of the benefits and impacts of Marine Protected Areas for the marine ecosystem and the stakeholders that depend on it. In order to satisfy these research needs, and achieve global conservation targets, it is necessary to significantly increase science funding, engage institutional support from key governments, researchers and stakeholders, and build scientific capacity at the regional and domestic level. While the conservation targets are global, their implementation is largely domestic. Governments must make decisions based on the best available science. This science has far more impact on governments and stakeholders if it is 'owned' by local and regional scientists and institutions, and presented in a manner that is socially and culturally appropriate. This science must answer local and regional priorities - not just address global conservation targets.