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A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a protected area whose boundaries include some area of ocean. MPA is often used as an umbrella term covering a wide range of marine areas with some level of restriction to protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. A commonly used definition is the one developed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). It defines Marine Protected Area as

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.[1]

An MPA can also be defined as “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein" [2]. This was the statement given in Executive Order 13158 in May 2000 when official MPAs were established for the first time.

Because the term "MPA" has been used widely around the globe, its meaning in any one country or region may be quite different than the one above. There are many related terms such as SPA (Specially Protected Area), SAC (Special Area of Conservation), MCZ (Marine Conservation Zones – a type of MPA in English waters), MR (Marine reserve), MP (Marine park), NTZ (No Take Zone), or ASC (Area of Special Conservation) which have specific types of restrictions associated with them, as defined by the laws of the state. In the international arena there has been a similar plethora of concepts: Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, Special Areas, etc.[1]

The world's MPAs are now viewable in Google Earth as part of Ocean in Google Earth, released in February 2009. Users can also view all of the MPAs displayed in this layer, as well as upload more photos, videos, and stories, at the official website that accompanies the Google Earth layer: Protect Planet Ocean here (developed by IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, in collaboration with many conservation partners).[3]





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In 1981 the World Conservation Monitoring Centre assumed the role of compiling the World Database on Protected Areas, a massive international database that tracks information related to Protected areas (PAs) from governmental, private, and scientific work.[1] In 2005, an online searchable database named "MPAGlobal" was established to better organize information related specifically to the marine protected areas. This was fully reintegrated into the original system in late 2008.[1]

Historically, Marine Protected areas have been established in no particular order on an ad hoc basis. For a long time there was no worldwide organizational body governing the setup and monitoring of Marine Protected Areas. The need to centralize the system was recognized as far back as 1988, at the 17th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) General Assembly in San Jose, California, and again in the fourth World Parks Congress as well as the 19th IUCN assembly.[1] The World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 called for "the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international laws and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012".[1] The Evian agreement, signed by G8 Nations in 2003, agreed to these terms.[1] The Durban Action Plan, developed in 2003, called for regional action and targets to establish a network of protected areas by 2010 within the jurisdiction of regional environmental protocols.[1] It recommended establishing protected areas for 20 to 30% of the world's oceans by the goal date of 2012.[1] The Convention on Biological Diversity considered these recommendations and recommended requiring nations to set up marine parks that are controlled by a central organization before merging them. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to the terms laid out by the convention, and its member nations committed to the target in 2004, signing the statement at right.[1] Decision VII/28 of the UN laid out the following deadlines[1]:

  • By 2006 complete area system gap analysis at national and regional levels.
  • By 2008 take action address the underrepresented of marine ecosystems in existing national and regional systems of protected areas, taking in account marine ecosystems beyond areas of national jurisdiction in accordance with applicable international laws.
  • By 2009 designate the protected areas identified through the gap analysis.
  • By 2012 complete the establishment of a comprehensive and ecologically representative national and regional system of Marine Protected Areas.

The UN later also endorsed another decision, Decision VII/15, in 2006[1]:

Effective conservation of 10% of each of the world's ecological regions by 2010.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Decision VII/15

Many countries have also established their own national targets, these actions are proving a strong incentive towards universalizing the efforts, and has led to a rapid development of national action plans, with varied actions taken and goals produced.[1] The UN Council identified the need for countries to collaborate with each other to establish an effective regional conservation plan. A few of these national targets are listed in the table below[1]:

Country Plan of Action
American Samoa 20% of reefs to be protected by 2010
South Australia 19 Marine Protected Areas by 2010
Bahamas 20% of the marine ecosystem protected for fishery replenishment by 2010.
20% of coastal and marine habitats by 2015.
Belize 20% of bioregions.

30% of Coral reefs.

60% of turtle nesting sites.

30% of Manatee distribution.

60% of American crocodile nesting.

80% of Breeding areas.

Chile 10% of marine areas by 2010. National network for organization by 2015.
Cuba 22% of land habitat, including:
15% of the Insular shelf
25% of Coral reefs
25% of Wetlands
Dominican Republic 20% of Marine and Coastal by 2020.
Micronesia 30% of shoreline ecosystems by 2020.
Fiji 30% of reefs by 2015.

30% of water managed by Marine Protected Areas by 2020.

Germany 38% of water managed by the Marine Protected network. (no set date)
Grenada 25% of nearby marine resources by 2020.
Guam 30% of nearby marine ecosystem by 2020.
Indonesia 100,000 km2 by 2010.

200,000 km2 by 2020.

Jamaica 20% of marine habitats by 2020.
Madagascar 100,000 km2 by 2012.
Marshal Islands 30% of nearby marine ecosystem by 2020.
New Zealand 20% of marine environment by 2010.
North Mariana Islands 30% of nearby marine ecosystem by 2020.
Palau 30% of nearby marine ecosystem by 2020.
Peru Marine Protected Area system established by 2015.
Philippines 10% Fully Protected by 2020.
Senegal Creation of MPA network. (no set date)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 20% of marine areas by 2020.
Tanzania 10% of marine area by 2010; 20% by 2020.
United Kingdom Establish an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012.
USACalifornia 29 MPAs covering 18% of state marine area with 243 km2 at maximum protection.

Definition of terms

Defining "Marine Protected Area"

One common definition for Marine Protected Areas is from the Marine Protected Areas government website. It states an MPA is “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein”[2]. This was the statement given in Executive Order 13158 in May 2000 when official MPAs were established for the first time. A common point of concern is over terminology – what exactly is a Marine Protected Area? One general definition is that it is a marine area meeting the definition of a "Protected Area" set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature:

A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem service and cultural value.[4]

The Convention on Biological Diversity, meanwhile, has a slightly different definition:

A geographically defined area, which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives.[4]

Both of these definitions require that the site must be set aside principally for conservation in order to be designated a Marine Protected Area. A site that is aside, for example, for national defense which also has a local habitat will not under the terms set by either agency qualify as a Protected Area.[4] The International Union for Conservation of Nature also went further and defined Marine Protected area in specific:

Any area of 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.[4]

Under this definition, several types of MPAs can be defined[4]:

  • A totally marine area with no significant terrestrial (land) parts.
  • An area containing both marine and terrestrial components, which can vary between two extremes:
    • A marine area that is mostly maritime, with little land; for example, an atoll would have a tiny island with a significant maritime population surrounding it.
    • A marine area that is mostly terrestrial. In this case, whether or not it can be given such a title is largely debatable.
  • Marine ecosystems that contain land and intertidal (land that is covered in/by water) components only. For example, a mangrove forest would contain no open sea or ocean marine environment, but its river-like marine ecosystem nevertheless constitutes under the definition.

Nevertheless, it can be difficult to trace what constitutes an MPA under these terms. For example, some coastal lagoons can dry up seasonally in times of little rain, leaving a mostly terrestrial area.[4] Another problem rises with islands that lie above high tide. Under the definitions of the Union and Convention, this island would not constitute under an MPA as it is totally terrestrial (although important to sea turtles and other beaching animals), and would give debate to the righteousness of the title if it is given to the area.[4]

The Convention on Biological Diversity attempted to solve this by defining the broader term of "Marine and Coastal Protected Area" (shorthand, MCPA):

Any defined area within or adjacent to the marine environment, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by legislation or other effective means, including custom, with the effect with the effect that its marine and/or coastal biodiversity enjoys a higher level of protection then its surroundings.[4]

This emphasizes the issue of how exactly terrestrial areas can constitute in an MPA. However, the term adjacent is undefined, which could still cause problems.[4]

The term "Marine Protected Area" covers generically any areas that meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature's definition, regardless of shape, size, management approach, etc.[4] One of the goals of the UN approach is to standardize the term. The terms Marine Park and Marine Reserve often cause confusion, as the two terms are unstandardized and their meaning varies from country to country. For example, in Kenya Marine Parks prohibit fishing or extraction of resources in any kind, but allows recreation.[4] In Tanzania, Marine Parks are zoned, and activities such as fishing are only allowed in certain, low risk areas.[4] In Kenya (and Belize), Marine Reserves allow for low-risk forms of fishing and are thus a lower area of protection. In Tanzania, Marine Reserves are no-take areas, the maximum gradient of protection..[4] In scientific literature the term is also usually used as "maximum protection."[4]

IUCN has agreed a definition of what a protected area is and is not, and then identified six different protected area categories, based on management objectives [5]. A protected area, when using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition, is: A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values[5]. This definition is explained in some detail, as are a series of accompanying principles, in the Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories prepared by the World Commission on Protected Areas. The Guidelines also detail the six IUCN Protected Area categories and four broad governance types under which protected areas usually fall [5].

Cat Created mainly for:
science or as a strict Nature Reserve; wilderness protection
Ecosystem protection and recreation (often National Park)
Conservation of specific natural features (often National Monument)
Conservation through close management and monitoring of species.
Landscape/seascape conservation and recreation (pure; no protection assigned)
Sustainable use of natural ecosystem

One of the most difficult tasks is deciding whether or not an area that is managed for the extraction of certain resources should be permitted to become an MPA. Under category VI, the non-depleting use of local resources is permitted, but this is debatable.[4]

Region versus system

Another problem that often arises is confusion over the use of the word "system" versus "network." The two terms are used interchangeably in literature to describe a group of protected areas in a region or country. However, in the MPA system there is a distinction between the two terms. "System" is generally more often used to refer to an individual MPA. "Region" is defined by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre as:

A collection of individual MPAs operating cooperatively, at various spatial scales and with a range of protection levels that are designed to meet objectives that a single reserve cannot achieve.[4]

Thus, network represents a network larger then system. In CBD decision VII/5, the agency agreed to the use of network on a global level, and the use of system on the national and regional level. The global level carries no authority or mandate, and all of the work lies in the system. The CBD defines the role of the global network as a large-scale network to be used as a mechanism to establish regional and local systems; some countries also define it based on their own terms.[4]

A “protection” area is a site that has existing laws or regulations that are designed and applied to afford the site with increased protection for part or all of the natural and submerged cultural resources therein for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing the long-term conservation of these resources, beyond any general protections that apply outside the site.[2]

There is a National System of MPAs in the United States that includes an assemblage of MPA sites, systems, and networks established and managed by federal, state, tribal, or local governments that collectively work together at the regional and national level to achieve common objectives for conserving the nation’s important natural and cultural resources. Although each MPA is independently managed, this national system enhances protection of U.S. marine resources by providing new opportunities for regional and national cooperation, supports the national economy by helping to sustain fisheries and maintain healthy marine ecosystems for tourism and recreation businesses, and it promotes public participation in MPA decision-making by improving access to scientific and public policy information. There is a nomination process for MPAs to be a part of the National System. The nomination process is transparent, science-based, and provides an opportunity for public comment.[2]

Entry Criteria for the National Systems of MPAs in the United States: Meets the definition of an MPA, Has a management plan for the specific site, Contributes to at least one priority conservation objective as listed in the Framework, the cultural heritage MPAs must also conform to criteria for the National Register for Historic Places

Nomination Process: The MPA Center will use existing information in the MPA Inventory to identify potentially eligible MPAs, and they will be invited to nominate their sites.Managing entities submit a nomination form for each nominated MPA to the MPA Center.A list of nominated sites will be published in a Federal Register notice and posted on for a 30-day public comment period. Based on public comment, managing entities will reaffirm or withdraw their nominations. After final MPA Center review, mutually agreed upon MPAs will be accepted into the national system.MPAs accepted into the national system will be listed in the official List of National System MPAs, which will be published in the Federal Register and on[2]

Global arrangement

MPAs are arranged in a global program called the UNEP-RSP, comprising thirteen regions and five partner programs (totalling eighteen areas). Participants are linked either through a convention or a regional programme. The five independent partner programs are active, but not under the jurisdiction of the UNEP. The arrangement is biogeographically based, unlike other systems, which are bio-politically based.[4]

Pros and cons

There are extensive records of the goods that come from MPAs; however, the idea of a global network is a relatively new idea, and thus has only been theoretically proved. Among the expected benefits is ensuring the effective protection of a single rare species, helping to maintain a natural range of species, enabling more effective funding through fund pooling, and bringing people with a common goal together.[4] The marine environment also environment benefits from systematic protection more than land areas because different areas are much more closely connected. The factors include water circulation, thermal patterns, wave patterns, migratory patterns and local climate.[4]

MPAs also have an effect on local human life. MPAs that are protect from fishing force fishermen to either find other employment opportunity or to fish elsewhere, affecting the nearby ecosystem. MPAs have also shown a tendency to be something of a tourist magnet, and this is weighed in when establishing MPAs.[4]

Local networks are usually built in one of two ways. A group of biologists would band together and argue for the establishment of an MPA to preserve biodiversity (usually an endangered species), and their request is adjusted by stakeholders until it was agreed upon or rejected. This is the first, and previously the most common, approach. Most people, however, argue that a great advantage would come from the interactiveness of linked sites, rather than a single-handed approach based on representation. A new system, called systematic conservation planning, is increasingly proving essential. This system is based upon the interaction between species in one MPA with those in another.[4]

Criteria of effectiveness

Both CBD and IUCN have sets of evaluative criteria for setting up and maintaining MPA networks, which basically boil down to 4 factors[4]:

  • Adequacy; ensuring that the sites are of effective enough size, shape, and distribution to ensure the vitality and integrity of its species.
  • Representability; a fully viable MPA system requires the establishment of protection for all of the local environment's biological processes
  • Resilience'; a.e the resistance of all parts of the system to a natural disaster, such as a tsunami or hurricane.
  • Connectivity; referring to ensuring the linkage between species in habitats, as marine environments are interconnected by various factors, and maintaining the links from one population to another is vital.

Types of MPAs

MPAs can be established for a multitude of reasons: to protect a certain species, to benefit fisheries management, or to protect full ecosystems, rare habitat, or nursing grounds for fish. MPAs are also established to protect historical sites as shipwrecks and important cultural sites such as aboriginal fishing grounds. MPAs can be very large (Great Barrier Reef) or very small (Area Marina Protetta Capo Rizzuto).

Typical restrictions in MPAs include ones on fisheries, oil and gas mining and access for tourism. Other restrictions may include the use of ultrasonic devices like sonar (which confuse the guidance system of cetaceans), development and construction and the like. Still others, such as New Zealand's marine reserves, are 'no take' areas, where all forms of exploitation are prohibited. Even navigation is at times regulated, sometimes so strictly to ban it all together, either as a preventive measure or to avoid direct disturbance to certain species. The degree to which environmental regulations can be enforced against foreign ships varies according to whether MPAs are located in territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, or high seas. The law of the sea regulates these limits.

For this reason, most MPAs have been located in the territorial waters of coastal states, where enforcement of their regulations can be properly ensured. However, MPAs can also be established in a state's exclusive economic zone and even international waters. For example, Italy, France and Monaco in 1999 jointly established a cetacean sanctuary in the Ligurian Sea named the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. This sanctuary includes both national and high seas waters.

Both the CBD and IUCN highly recommend that a variety of possible management systems be considered when designing a protected area system. They believe that MPAs should not be seen as isolated areas of protection, but rather as one of many "nodes" in a network of protected sea areas.[4] The following are the most commonly used individual types of MPAs.

No-take areas

The highest margin of protection is the no-take area, and they are fundamental to conservation as they severely limit all activities within the MPA borders. They can include the whole area, or be certain vulnerable portions within a Marine Protected Area that enjoy elevated protection. The IUCN definition allows for the extraction of resources from the area with a permit and for scientific use only. At present, there is no globally defined definition for "No Take", although one will most probably become necessary in the long run. However, they are often used as the maximum level of protection.[4]

Some areas where "no-take" is designated, there have been vast improvements on the well-being of the habitat and the species in danger. One example of a success is the Tortugas Ecological Reserve in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Keys are also home to the nesting grounds of the green and loggerhead sea turtles. The Tortugas Ecological Reserve was designated for the protection of these vulnerable species. The Keys are a diverse and productive marine ecosystem with many hard and soft bottom communities, patch reefs, and bank reefs. The Tortugas Ecological Reserve, established in 2001, was created to ensure the stability of commercial fisheries. In this area, you cannot perform any anchoring activities in order to protect the water quality and habitat. This reserve is geologically isolated, and scientists hope they will be able to distinguish between natural and human-caused impacts to the coral reef environment by looking at differences in this reserve.

Multiple-use MPAs

Increasingly, the most common and arguably most effective type of MPA is a multiple use one, which does not fall in any one category but uses the others within its borders. These types of MPAs have no-take areas, temporary management areas, and any one of the other classes. By meshing them together within one park the most important sections get the highest protection. A common practice is to use at least one no-take area in a critical area, buffered by dissipating levels of protection, as with the island of Asinara.[4][6] As in the case of Asinara, the exact layout is usually decided through complex surveys and computations that calculate the best possible coverage.[6],as in here.

Seasonal and temporary management

This system has seen wide use to conserve seaborne resources. Restrictions and activities, usually fishing, are placed seasonally or temporarily to let the local ecosystem recoup. The most common use of this system is to conserve fishing populations during certain vital times, such as spawning seasons, as in the "Irish Sea Cod Box".[4] At other times this kind of system can be used to temporarily protect a depleted marine population from overfishing, allowing it to recover, as in the waters of Okinawa, Japan.[4]

Community-managed and related systems

Not always officially recognized as MPAs, community-managed MPAs may and often do fall under other titles and jurisdictions. The argument is that by making the reserve community-managed you harmonize principals, promote well thought approaches and allow local areas to work together.[4] They more often fall into the following, unrelated, designations (although there is overlap):

  • World Heritage Site – an area exhibiting extensive natural or cultural history must meet the stringent and specific criteria set by World Heritage Convention to become a World Heritage Site (WHS). Maritime areas are poorly represented, however, with only 31 marine locations designated out of over 800 sites.[4] One example of overlap is the island of Asinara.
  • Man and the Biosphere – This program, run by UNESCO, sets up to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere." Under article 4 of its clause, biosphere reserves must “encompass a mosaic of ecological systems,”[7] and thus consist of combination of terrestrial, coastal, or marine ecosystems.[7] In structure they are similar to Multiple-use MPAs, with a core area ringed by different degrees of protection.[4]
  • Ramstar Site – These sites must meet certain criteria for the definition of "Wetland" to become part of a global system.[8] These sites do not necessarily give any protection, but marked sites are indexed by importance so that the agency can put certain sites before a more formal convention that could make it a protected area, such as an MPA.[4] Thus this program aims to increase wetland representation in protected systems.

Fishery management areas

Areas managed to sustain a usable fish population for fishing very rarely are promoted to MPAs, but there are exceptions.[4] One big example is the Fish Habitat Reserves in Australia.

Effectiveness of MPAs

A learning model of migratory fish behavior and fishermen interaction was used [9] to examine the following questions:

  • Do MPAs export adult fish biomass? – Results indicated that closed areas increased fish biomass, but also decreased fish catches. Interestingly when a fish spawning area was closed to fishers, mean fish biomass was higher but the variance was lower. Therefore it seems that indeed MPAs create a fish population buffer.
  • Do MPAs increase fish catches? – According to the model, when an area is closed but there are no catch regulations such as Individual transferable quota, fish biomass is reduced and fish catches are temporarily increased, though decreased on the long-term due to the reduced fish biomass. Thus a displacement of the fleet from one locality to another will generally have little effect if the same quota is taken, resulting in overfishing.
  • Are the benefits of MPAs dumped by fish motility (i.e. slow or fast moving fish species)? – Modeling results indicated that transfer rates of fish increase the benefits of marine reserves in terms of fish biomass, but decrease fish catches.

Technology has also begun to provide a deeper understanding of what is going on inside MPAs. Managers and scientists use geographic information systems and remote sensing to map and analyze the resources under their jurisdiction. Remote sensing uses advancements in images capture of aerial photography, satellite imagery, acoustic data, and radar imagery. NOAA Coastal Services Center compiled an "Inventory of GIS-Based Decision-Support Tools for MPAs." The report focuses on GIS tools with the highest utility for MPA processes.[2]


As of February 2009, there are approximately 5000 MPAs, located around the world. They are viewable in Google Earth. Currently, however, only 0.8 of one percent of the world's oceans are included in marine protected areas.[10]

Some locations that have notable MPAs with Wikipedia articles available include:

Global status

The Americas

Regional participation in North America, South America, Central America and the

Diagram illustrating the orientation of the 3 marine sanctuaries of Central California: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay. Davidson Seamount, part of the Monterey Bay sanctuary, is indicated at bottom-right.

Caribbean is complex, and many countries, with borders on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, participate in more than one regional program. Latin America in particular considers itself one large MPA system; at the Second Latin American Congress on National Parks and other Protected Areas the participant countries were urged to make good on the MPA system. As of 2008, 0.5% of the Latin American marine environment is protected, mostly through the use of small-size multiple-use MPAs[13]

In 1999, the North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAN) was established, a project of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (CEC). NAMPAN is a virtual network of people and places spanning Canada, The United States, and Mexico that work together to address tri-national, transboundary marine conservation issues[14]. Currently Canada and the United States are moving forward with the development of country-wide systems of marine protected areas.

In April 2009, the United States established a National System of Marine Protected Areas, which strengthens the protection of U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources through the coordination of existing MPAs. Currently, 225 MPAs participate in the national system, with additional members expected to join in 2010. National system sites agree to work together toward common national and regional conservation goals and priorities. The national system works to enhance the natural and cultural heritage of U.S. coastal and marine waters and promote sustainable production of its Great Lakes and marine resources. To support the National System of Marine Protected Areas, NOAA’s National Marine Protected Area’s Center maintains a comprehensive MPA Inventory of all MPAs within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States. The 225 national system sites are a subset of this MPA Inventory. The U.S. has over 1,600 MPAs, ranging from typically small, fully- protected marine reserves where extractive uses are prohibited, to large, multiple- use areas where fishing, diving and other uses are permitted. Most MPAs in the U.S. allow some type of extractive use. In fact, Less than 1% of U.S. waters are fully protected marine reserves where extractive activities are not permitted.[15]

Greater Caribbean

The Caribbean region; the UNEP defined region also includes the Gulf of Mexico. This region is encompassed by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System proposal, and the Caribbean challenge
The Gulf of Mexico region (in 3D) is encompassed by the "Islands in the Stream" proposal.

The Greater Caribbean subdivision encompasses an area of about 5.7 million km2 of sea area and 38 very different countries. The area includes Caribbean countries like the Bahamas and Cuba, and it also includes the majority of Central America. The countries are of a very diverse size and background, with some, like Puerto Rico, under the dugress of larger countries, like the US. At the same time, there is a strong sense of regional connectivity.[13]

The Convention for Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (better known in shorthand as the Cartagena Convention) was established in 1983, and protocols involving protected areas were ratified in 1990.[13] The specifics of their goals, released in 2000, are[13]:

  • Establishing a regional network and management program
  • Establishing a "trainer" program for MPAs
  • Establishing a grant fund for buying technical MPA support
  • Strengthening MPA management
  • Promoting the UN's Guidelines on Protected Area Management

Establishing Protected Areas has been a priority for the region, known for its pristine environment, since the 1980s. As of 2008, there are about 500 MPAs in the region. In terms of representation, coral reefs are the best represented. In 2000, the Convention on Biological Diversity launched the "Caribbean Challenge." The goal was to get 20% of the outstanding marine environment protected by 2020. A large number of the Caribbean countries have since signed up since.[13]

There are currently two networks under development in the Caribbean, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (a long barrier reef that borders the coast of much of Central America), and the "Islands in the Stream" program (covering the Gulf of Mexico). The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef's goal is to create a resilient network of well-managed resilient MPAs.[13] The program is currently conducting research on the interactions between the local environment; several breeding sites have already been protected.[13]

The Islands in the Stream system is still in the proposal stage. A scientific convention on the possible arrangement was conducted in January 2008.[13]

South and North Pacific east coast

The Pacific Ocean. Note that the South & North east coast only includes the coasts of the eastern countries.

The Pacific coast of North and South America are united under two MPA networks, the South Pacific network, which stems from the Central American country of Belize all the way to the sub-Antarctic regions of Chile, and the North Pacific method, which primarily covers the western coasts of Mexico, Canada, and the United States of America.[13] The southern region is dominated by a Humboldt current that transfers cold and warm water near the coast, resulting in some of the world's most productive fishery areas off the coast of Peru and Argentina. The southern region is also prone to the famous El Niños that are so widely studies by the scientific community, while the northern portion's circulation stems from the Gulf of California.[13]

South Pacific

The Lima Convention and Action Plan for protected areas was adapted for the South Pacific region back in 1981; a protocol specifically about Marine Protected Areas was ratified in 1989.[13] The governmental body governing the regional MPAs is known as the Permanent Commission on the Exploitation and Conservation on the Marine Resources of the South Pacific. This cross-national organization, involving numerous smaller partner programs and organizations, is a social network. It aims to promote the exchange of studies and information in the participant countries.[13]

A meeting by scientists in 2004 evaluated the efforts so far. They showed that although the amount, density, and level of MPAs had increased since 1999, there were many problems that still needed to be addressed:[13]

  • Development of supportive national and regional policies related to MPA establishment to promote well thought out plans.
  • Streamlining the system by reducing redundant overlapping responsibility between programs on the administration, management, and control of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Increased funding for relevant scientific study and environmental awareness.
  • Development of a strategy for cooperation on the international scale.
  • Promoting "stinging" MPAs.
  • Establishment of a regional information database.

At a February meeting in 2008 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a permanent workgroup for meeting these new goals was established.[13]

The region is currently running one comprehensive cross-national program, the Tropical Eastern Pacific Marine Corridor Network, signed in April 2004. The network covers about 211,000,000 km2 of area.[13] The participating countries are Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador. The project is still being developed, through four large projects. It was also proposed in 2005 to link it with a large coastal "corridor" for migratory whales.[13]

North Pacific
The Baja California to Bering Sea stretches along the coast on the right in this map. The Bering Sea is the Alaskan coast, and Baja California is a peninsula attached to California.

The Antigua Convention and an Action Plan for the north Pacific region were adapted in 2002. Local organizations, like the World Wildlife Fund, have campaigned to raise awareness of the benefits of fully protected MPAs, and their positive impact on the marine environment. There, is however, no protocol; all of the participant nations follow their own national systems.[13]

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation is the regional body of the region. It is social networking organization developed in November 1999 for the North East Pacific Region, involving Mexico, the USA, and Canada. It goals are[13]

  • enhance the calibration between the three countries
  • develop approaches to help conserve critical marine ecosystems in North America
  • build a capacity to access monitor and conserve the status of critical marine areas, as well as implement lessons learned and develop new management strategies
  • facilitate the development of a global and regional network of MPAs.

The network has proven highly effective and productive, and produces new methods and publications at a fast rate. While it has no jurisdiction over the actual establishment and maintenance of MPAs, it provides a useful and well-used framework for the three involved countries.[13]

There are currently two cross-national networks in development. In 2005, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation proposed the Baja California to Bering Sea (B2B) initiative. All three countries are currently busy filling out MPAs for the 28 key marine areas found by the initiative.[13]

See also

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Wells, Sue; with several associates and advisors (2008). "National and Regional Networks of Marine Protected Areas:A Review of Progress". Master Evaluation for the UN Effort. World Conservation Monitoring Centre. pp. Chapter 1 – Introduction. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f (
  3. ^ "Project Planet Earth". MPA Database. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Wells, Sue; with several associates and advisors (2008). "National and Regional Networks of Marine Protected Areas:A Review of Progress". Master Evaluation for the UN Effort. World Conservation Monitoring Centre. pp. Chapter 2 – What Are MPA Networks and Systems?. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  5. ^ a b c Dudley, N. (Editor) (2008). Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. x + 86pp. [1]
  6. ^ a b "Zoning Marine protected Areas through Spatial Multiple-Criteria Analysis:The Case of Asinara National Marine Reserve of Italy". University Research Paper (PDF Format). University of Vermont. November 2, 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  7. ^ a b "MaB Program Home". UNESCO. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  8. ^ "Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type" (in English, Spanish, and French). 1996. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  9. ^ Moustakas, A., Silvert, W. and Dimitromanolakis A. (2006). A spatially explicit learning model of migratory fish and fishers for evaluating closed areas Ecological Modelling, 192: 245–258. Download
  10. ^ Wood et al. 2008. Assessing progress towards global marine protection targets: shortfalls in information and action. Oryx 42:340–351
  11. ^ Conservation International – World’s Largest Marine Protected Area Created in Pacific Ocean
  12. ^ D Smith and KA Miller. (2003). "Safe Harbors for our Future: An Overview of Marine Protected Areas.". In: SF Norton (ed). Diving for Science...2003. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (22nd Annual Scientific Diving Symposium). Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Wells, Sue; with several associates and advisors (2008). "National and Regional Networks of Marine Protected Areas:A Review of Progress". Master Evaluation for the UN Effort. World Conservation Monitoring Centre. pp. Chapter 3 – The Americas. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  14. ^
  15. ^

Further reading

External links


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