What is a Marine Protected Area?
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographically defined areas where natural and/or cultural resources are given greater protection than the surrounding waters. In the U.S., the formal definition of an MPA in Executive Order 13158 (May 2000) 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. Types of MPAs include National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine National Monuments, National Estuarine Research Reserves, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, certain fishery management areas, and the state and local counterparts to these programs. Coastal protected areas that extend into the marine environment are also considered MPAs.
Generally, MPAs have a stable, permanent legal and management infrastructure to protect their resources. These provide opportunities for the implementation of management measures to mitigate climate change impacts, or at a minimum, reduce other stressors. Protective actions within MPAs also have beneficial effects outside the MPA, such as the protection of bordering or buffering habitats and the production of larval, juvenile, and adult marine species that “spillover” into outside areas. MPAs can also serve as an important carbon sink. Over half (55%) of the biological carbon stored globally is stored by living marine organisms. MPAs that protect habitats such as salt marshes, mangroves, and algal and seagrass beds, all of which store carbon, help mitigate climate change impacts. Source: NOAA
We want to help communities around the globe establish new MPA’s. Just one of the human impact issues our reefs face is overfishing. By establishing MPA’s, we can ensure that reef fish are allowed to grow to a stage that they are of spawning age. Educating communities about the importance of creating MPA’s and eco-tourism on their reefs instead of overfishing, helps them feed and support their families in a sustainable way.