Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The U.S. departments of Interior and Commerce today announced the availability of the final Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States. This new system will allow various regional, state and federal agencies synchronize their approach to the protection of the nation’s natural and cultural marine treasures. As outlined on the National Marine Protected Areas Center (http://www.mpa.gov/), the national system of MPAs "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 promotes public participation in MPA decision-making by improving access to scientific and public policy information."
"The National System of Marine Protected Areas is the first formal mechanism for coordinating MPAs across all levels of government," the release read. The agencies also announced the nomination process for federal, state, territorial, tribal and local sites to join the National System of Marine Protected Areas. (Which include more than no-take reserves, but a variety of protection and use levels; visit the website linked below for more).
MPAs are specifically defined areas where natural or cultural resources are given greater protection than the surrounding waters. In the U.S., these areas may span a range of habitats including the open ocean, coastal areas, inter-tidal zones, estuaries, and the Great Lakes. Locally, they include a patchwork of locations between Point Conception near Santa Barbara and Pigeon Point near San Jose
“Today’s announcement highlights a new focus on working together across jurisdictions to conserve our common ocean heritage,” said Timothy Keeney, deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “Through the national system of MPAs, we will have a more efficient, effective approach to conservation of the nation’s important natural and cultural marine resources.”
For more information, visit the National Marine Protected Areas Center at http://www.mpa.gov/.