Marine protected areas (MPAs) provide multiple conservation benefits, thus raising the question of how good and consistent they are at their roles. Here, we quantified three components, namely, diversity, biomass, and other relevant variables, in numerous protected and unprotected areas across four marine ecoregions in southwestern Europe. We created a “global conservation status index” (CSIglobal) as the sum of CSIdiversity, CSIbiomass, and CSIrelevant. We then tested whether CSI and its three components varied as a function of protection and marine ecoregion. MPA efficiency, defined as the effect size of protection on CSIglobal, was unreliable and varied with geography. CSIbiomass and CSIrelevant contributed to the unreliability of MPA efficiency, while CSIdiversity was reliable. CSIbiomass showed the major efficiency in protected areas (60%). Biomass of threatened species was the single largest variable that contributed to MPA efficiency. Our easy-to-use approach can identify high- and lowefficient MPAs and help to clarify their actual roles.