An article in the December 2001/January 2002 issue of MPA News -- "Results from the Reader Challenge: Which MPA is the Oldest?" -- sparked responses (including those below) from readers who questioned the definition the newsletter used for "marine protected area". They felt the definition was too broad to be useful.
The definition used for the challenge was that of the IUCN (World Conservation Union), which describes a marine protected area as "an 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 all or part of the enclosed environment." (IUCN, 1992) Based on this definition, MPA News named the Royal National Park, designated in 1879 in New South Wales, Australia, as the oldest existing MPA. The predominantly terrestrial park features some intertidal terrain, from which the taking of mollusks is prohibited.