The U.K. government is committed to establishing a coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012 and the recentMarine and Coastal Access Act, 2009 will designate marine conservation zones and provide wider access rights to the coast. To fulfill these goals, this article argues the need for a clearer, shared understanding of the social value of protected areas in creating new designations and managing existing ones. Although marine and coastal environments attract many people and are vitally important in terms of realized and potential social value, the majority of the public in the United Kingdom lacks understanding and awareness regarding them. Combined with this, the social value of marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs) have been largely ignored relative to conservation and economics, with the latter invariably taking precedence in environmental policymaking. Social value reflects the complex, individual responses that people experience in a given place. Many reasons determine why one area is valued above another, and this research investigates the social value of MCPAs from a practitioner?s perspective through a series of interviews. Understanding why we ?socially? value MCPAs will ultimately equip managers with an informed understanding of these spaces, influence management decisions, and, potentially, policymaking. This article defines social value in the context of MCPAs in England and Wales from a practitioner perspective, explores key concepts, and suggests possible improvements in decision-making.