Eight per cent of US waters protected
New analysis shows that the majority of US MPAs allow human uses, including fishing, swimming and kayaking. Credit: NOAA
New analysis has shown that 8% of US waters are currently designated as marine protected areas (MPAs), with the vast majority of these areas open to fishing and other activities, according to NOAA.
US sites are catalogued in the recently updated MPA Inventory.
The 8% figure does not include MPAs specifically established to sustain fisheries production, which often have specific restrictions on fishing gear over large ocean areas. Other inventory analyses including these fishery MPAs, however, show that 92% of the area within US MPAs allows some type of activity, and 85% is open to fishing.
The analysis also showed that more than two-thirds of all US MPAs were created, at least in part, to conserve natural heritage values, such as biodiversity, ecosystems, or protected species. About a quarter of sites focus on sustainable production, such as those established to recover overfished stocks, protect species readily taken as bycatch, or preserve essential fish habitats.
“The MPA inventory and mapping tool give both planners and the public an easy way to see the big picture of all the marine protected areas in our oceans and along our coasts. By including MPAs from all federal and state agencies, managers can better cooperate to protect shared resources, and the public can easily find their local MPAs and see the types of uses they allow,” said David M Kennedy, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service.
Images for this article - click to enlarge
Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright © Mercator Media 2013. This does not exclude the owner's assertion of copyright over the material.