NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Report Provides a Snapshot of United States. Marine Protected Areas

NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Report Provides a Snapshot of United States. Marine Protected Areas

Butterfly fish; photo by Greg McFall

Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time

The new report focuses on the role of United States. Marine Protected Areas in protecting natural heritage, cultural resources, and values.

NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center recently released a new report on the state of MPAs in the United States. Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time, provides a detailed snapshot of the coverage, level of protection, protected resources, and ecological representativeness of MPAs in United States. waters. It also features brief case studies in MPA management from around the country.

“This report provides a big picture perspective on our collective efforts to protect special places in the ocean, as well as highlights the innovative work being done by MPA programs around the country,” says Lauren Wenzel, Acting Director of the National MPA Center.

The report data focuses specifically on United States. MPAs for natural heritage – including ecosystems, biodiversity, habitats, and species – as well as MPAs for cultural resources and values. The focus on both natural and cultural heritage MPAs allows greater comparability with the accepted international definition of MPAs as established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While the United States also has MPAs that focus on fisheries management, the IUCN definition does not include this type of MPA.

Currently, United States. MPAs focused on natural and cultural heritage cover approximately 8 percent of United States. waters. International targets for MPA coverage established through the Convention on Biological Diversity and other commitments call for 10 percent of ocean and coastal areas to be conserved within MPAs by the year 2020. 

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