It was on land that the need for conservation of nature was first felt. Setting aside of noteworthy areas for that purpose often led to a serious clash with other interests. Therefore the need was felt to formulate on a scientific basis which factors should be carefully considered in deciding which sections of the continents should be destined for nature conservation. It turned out that all these factors operate directly or indirectly in the interest of man himself, not for nature as such. An effort is made to study the applicability of all these factors in the marine environment. Comparison with the situation on land leads to the conclusion that the recreational value of the coral reefs in tropical areas requires above all measures for their protection, whereas other factors are already duly taken care of or require no action at all for the time being.