Archives - What is a Marine Protected Area?
Executive Order 13158 defines
marine protected areas (MPAs) as "any area of the marine
environment that has been reserved by Federal, State, territorial,
tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection
for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein."
Varying Definitions of
Different Types and Characteristics of
The term "marine protected area"
has been in use for over two decades. The concept of marine
protected areas has been around for centuries. A marine protected
area has come to mean different things to different people,
based primarily on the level of protection provided by the
MPA. Some see MPAs as sheltered or reserved areas where little,
if any, use or human disturbance should be permitted. Others
see them as specially managed areas designed to enhance ocean
use. Many accept the definition developed by the World Conservation
Union: "any area of the intertidal or subtidal terrain,
together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna,
historical and cultural features, which has been reserved
by law or other effective means to protect part or all of
the enclosed environment" (IUCN, 1988;
Not too different is the definition in Marine Protected Areas
Executive Order 13158. This defines an MPA as "any area
of the marine environment that has been reserved by Federal,
State, territorial, tribal or local laws or regulations to
provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural
and cultural resources therein" (Federal
Register, 2000). Under this broad definition, a wide variety
of sites could be considered as MPAs.
and Characteristics of MPAs
||MPAs are used as a management tools
to protect, maintain, or restore natural and cultural
resources in coastal and marine waters. They have been
used effectively both nationally and internationally to
conserve biodiversity, manage natural resources, protect
endangered species, reduce user conflicts, provide educational
and research opportunities, and enhance commercial and
recreational activities (Salm et al. 2000).
There are many different types of MPAs in
the United States. For example, U.S. MPAs may include national
marine sanctuaries, fishery management zones, national seashores,
national parks, national monuments, critical habitats, national
wildlife refuges, national estuarine research reserves, state
conservation areas, state reserves, and many others. MPAs
have different shapes, sizes, and management characteristics,
and have been established for different purposes.
||Biscayne National Park is the largest
marine park in the National Park System, with 95% of its
173,000 acres covered by water. The area was set aside
in 1968 to "...preserve and protect for the education,
inspiration, recreation and enjoyment of present and future
generations a rare combination of terrestrial, marine,
and amphibious life in a tropical setting of great natural
(Public Law 90-606)
MPAs provide different levels of protection
and use. They range from areas closed to public access, such
as Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo, Florida
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001);
to sites that permit access but do not allow consumptive uses,
such as Edmonds Underwater Park in Washington (Murray,1998);
to areas where the use of specific types of fishing gear is
restricted, such as certain fishery management areas; and
to multiple-use areas, such as the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary (National Ocean Service (a), 2000).
MPAs also protect a variety of specific natural and cultural
resources. The near-shore Bristol Bay fishery closure area
off Alaska protects king crab aggregations and habitat important
to this valuable fisheries species (Code
of Federal Regulations, 2000). The Virgin Islands National
Park protects coral reef habitat and sea-turtle nesting areas
(National Park Service, 1998). Midway Atoll
National Wildlife Refuge protects habitat for endangered species
such as the Hawaiian monk seal, coral reefs, and historical
artifacts from the famous World War II battle that occurred
there (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001).
The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of North
Carolina protects the site of this famous Civil War-era shipwreck
(National Ocean Service (b), 2000).
MPAs can range dramatically in size and shape.
There are small areas, such as the 14-acre Farnsworth Bank
Ecological Reserve in Los Angeles County, California (McArdle,
1997), and large areas, such as the Monterey Bay National
Marine Sanctuary in California, which covers 5,300 square
miles (National Ocean Service (c), 2000).
MPAs differ in location and jurisdiction.
Some MPAs are in federal waters only, which, for the most
part, extend from three to 200 miles offshore. These are managed
under federal laws by federal agencies. Some MPAs are found
only in state waters where both state and federal laws may
apply. MPAs may overlap. The Channel Islands National Marine
Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park share jurisdiction
over some ocean waters (National Academy of
Public Administration, 2000). Finally, some MPAs, such
as the Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, include
both marine and land components (Bauman
et al., 1998).
||The Channel Islands National
Marine Sanctuary is located 25 miles off the coast of
Santa Barbara, California. The sanctuary encompasses the
waters surrounding Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San
Miguel and Santa Barbara islands, extending from mean
high tide to seven miles offshore.
Bauman, C., S.
Brody, D. Fenton, and B. Nicholson. 1998. A GIS Database
of Existing Coastal and Marine Protected Areas, Conservation
Zones, and Restricted Fishing Areas in the Gulf of Maine.
Gulf of Maine Council on the Gulf of Maine Web Site. www.gulfofmaine.org
Code of Federal Regulations.
50 CFR 622.35(c)
2000. Presidential Documents. Executive Order 13158 of
May 26, 2000. Volume 65, No. 105. May 31, 2000. Washington,
DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
IUCN The World Conservation
Union. 1988. Resolution 17.38 of the 17th General Assembly
of the IUCN. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.
Kelleher, G. 1999.
Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas. Gland, Switzerland
and Cambridge, UK: IUCN The World Conservation Union.
xxiv + 107 pp.
McArdle, D.A. 1997.
California Marine Protected Areas. California Sea Grant
College System. Publication No. T-039. ISBN 1-888-691-03-4.
La Jolla, CA: University of California Press.
Murray, M.R., 1998. The
Status of Marine Protected Areas in Puget Sound. Puget
Sound/Georgia Basin Environmental Report Series: Number 8.
National Academy of Public
Administration. 2000. Protecting Our National Marine Sanctuaries:
A report by the Center for the Economy and the Environment.
Washington, DC: NAPA. xi + 53 pp.
National Ocean Service(a)
(on-line). Accessed September 2000. NOAA's National Marine
Sanctuaries Program Web site. www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/oms/omsflorida/omsfloridamanag.html
National Ocean Service
(b) (on-line). Accessed September 2000. NOAA's National Marine
Sanctuaries Program Web site. www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/oms/omsmonitor/omsmonitor.html
National Ocean Service
(c) (on-line). Accessed September 2000. NOAA's National Marine
Sanctuaries Program Web site. www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/oms/omsmonterey/omsmonterey.html
National Parks Service.
1998. Coral Reefs Under National Parks Service Jurisdiction:
Overview of Areas, Protection, and Management Issues. Washington,
DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Water Resources Division.
Salm, R.V., J. Clark,
and E. Siirila. 2000. Marine and Coastal Protected Areas:
A Guide for Planners and Managers. Washington, DC: IUCN
The World Conservation Union. xxi + 371 pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (on-line). Accessed July 2001. National Wildlife Refuge
System Web site. www.refuges.fws.gov