Here, we clarify the events described on a recent paper by Soares & Lucas in Marine Policy 93 (2018) that resulted in the establishment of large marine protected areas (MPAs) in Brazil. We describe crucial aspects of the planning process that were not addressed by the authors, particularly: (i) top-down changes on the original design that left the most diverse, unique and vulnerable ecosystems poorly protected; (ii) the permission of fishing activities within no-take areas; and (iii) shortfalls in using these MPAs for quantifying progress towards the Aichi Target 11. The spatial configuration of MPAs was modified by the government in a typical top-down scenario that received neither public nor scientific input. We call for a ban on fishing activities around the islands and on mining activities within all MPAs. We emphasize the need for reconciling qualitative aspects of Aichi Target 11 when establishing new MPAs as a strategy for enhancing conservation outcomes. The establishment of these large MPAs should not divert attention from actions needed for the protection of priority sites based on scientific evidence.