Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time

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The National Marine Protected Areas Center of NOAA has released a new report, Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time. It "provides a detailed snapshot of the coverage, level of protection, resources protected and ecological representativeness of MPAs in U.S. waters." You may download the full-text PDF for free via the link below.

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-Nick Wehner, OpenChannels Project Manager

Table of Contents

Journal Articles

Free: Deep ocean communities impacted by changing climate over 24 y in the abyssal northeast Pacific Ocean. Kenneth L. Smith, Jr., Henry A. Ruhl, Mati Kahru, Christine L. Huffard, and Alana D. Sherman. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1315447110; PNAS November 11, 2013.

Recommendations for best practice in deep-sea habitat classification: Bullimore et al. as a case study. Henry, L-A., and Roberts, J. M. ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi.10.1093/icesjms/fst175.

Free: Recovery Trends in Marine Mammal Populations. Magera AM, Mills Flemming JE, Kaschner K, Christensen LB, Lotze HK (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e77908. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077908.

Determining the Feasibility of Establishing New Multiple-Use Marine Protected Areas in Chile. Felipe Vásquez-Lavín, Jeanne W. Simon, Ximena Paz-Lerdón. AMBIO, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 997-1009, 2013-12-01; DOI: 10.1007/s13280-013-0455-x.

The Making of Environmental Subjectivity in Managing Marine Protected Areas: A Case Study from Southeast Cebu. Shio Segi. Human Organization, Volume 72, Number 4, Winter 2013 pp. 336-346.

Towards marine ecosystem based management in South Florida: Investigating the connections among ecosystem pressures, states, and services in a complex coastal system. Geoffrey S. Cook, Pamela J. Fletcher, Christopher R. Kelble. Ecological Indicators, Available online 12 November 2013.

On the Right Way to Right Whale Protections in the Gulf of Maine—Case Study. John Duff, Hannah Dean, Tsafrir Gazit, Christopher T. Taggart & Jennifer H. Cavanagh. Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, Volume 16, Issue 4, 2013; Special Issue: Tracking and Protecting Marine Species at Risk: Scientific Advances, Sea of Governance Challenges, Part 2; pages 229-265.

Sustainable development of rural coastal areas: Impacts of a new fisheries policy. Efstratios Loizou, Fotios Chatzitheodoridis, Konstadinos Polymeros, Anastasios Michailidis, Konstadinos Mattas. Land Use Policy, Volume 38, May 2014, Pages 41–47.

Twenty thousand sterling under the sea: Estimating the value of protecting deep-sea biodiversity. Niels Jobstvogt, Nick Hanley, Stephen Hynes, Jasper Kenter, Ursula Witte. Ecological Economics, Volume 97, January 2014, Pages 10–19.

Managing Rapana in the Black Sea: Stakeholder workshops on both sides. Ron Janssen, Ståle Knudsen, Valentina Todorova, Ayşe Gündüz Hoşgör. Ocean & Coastal Management, Available online 18 November 2013.

Exploring the phronetic dimension of stakeholders' knowledge in EU fisheries governance. Sebastian Linke, Svein Jentoft. Marine Policy, Available online 15 November 2013.

Developing marine historic environment management policy: The English Heritage experience. Christopher Pater, Ian Oxley. Marine Policy, Available online 15 November 2013.

One size does not fit all: The emerging frontier in large-scale marine conservation. Robert J. Toonen, T. ‘Aulani Wilhelm, Sara M. Maxwell, Daniel Wagner, Brian W. Bowen, Charles R.C. Sheppard, Sue M. Taei, Tukabu Teroroko, Russell Moffitt, Carlos F. Gaymer, Lance Morgan, Nai‘a Lewis, Anne L.S. Sheppard, John Parks, Alan M. Friedlander, The Big Ocean Think Tank. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 15 November 2013.

Global assessment of the status of coral reef herbivorous fishes: evidence for fishing effects. C. B. Edwards, A. M. Friedlander, A. G. Green, M. J. Hardt, E. Sala, H. P. Sweatman, I. D. Williams, B. Zgliczynski, S. A. Sandin and J. E. Smith. Proc. R. Soc. B 7 January 2014 vol. 281 no. 1774 20131835.


Free: The Shipping Industry and Marine Spatial Planning - A Professional Approach. David Patraiko and Paul Holthus. World Ocean Council, The Nautical Institute, and IALA AISM, November 2013.

Free: Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time. Lauren Wenzel. NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center, 2013.

Deep ocean communities impacted by changing climate over 24 y in the abyssal northeast Pacific Ocean

The deep ocean, covering a vast expanse of the globe, relies almost exclusively on a food supply originating from primary production in surface waters. With well-documented warming of oceanic surface waters and conflicting reports of increasing and decreasing primary production trends, questions persist about how such changes impact deep ocean communities. A 24-y time-series study of sinking particulate organic carbon (food) supply and its utilization by the benthic community was conducted in the abyssal northeast Pacific (∼4,000-m depth). Here we show that previous findings of food deficits are now punctuated by large episodic surpluses of particulate organic carbon reaching the sea floor, which meet utilization. Changing surface ocean conditions are translated to the deep ocean, where decadal peaks in supply, remineralization, and sequestration of organic carbon have broad implications for global carbon budget projections.

Recommendations for best practice in deep-sea habitat classification: Bullimore et al. as a case study

We assert that the reef framework-forming coral, Solenosmilia variabilis Duncan, 1873, is sometimes incorrectly recorded as another coral, Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758) in surveys of deep-sea habitat (e.g. Bullimore, R., Foster, N., and Howell, K. 2013. Coral-characterized benthic assemblages of the deep Northeast Atlantic: defining “Coral Gardens” to support future habitat mapping efforts. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 70: 511–522). Accurate species lists are critical for developing robust deep-sea habitat classification schemes that allow us to map the distribution of different vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and predict their occurrences under future climate change scenarios, both of which help prioritize areas for marine protected areas. We recommend that the survey reported by Bullimore et al. (2013), as well as analogous surveys, consider the likelihood of Solenosmilia having been misidentified, and revise their data if necessary. We also make two further recommendations for best practice in deep-sea habitat classification using Bullimore et al. (2013) as a case study. Preferably, physical specimens should be obtained during deep-sea surveys. However, in the absence of identifications confirmed with specimens, image-based analyses of deep-sea communities can be achieved with high confidence when (i) independent validation is provided by senior taxonomic specialists in taxa that are indicators of VMEs, such as cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, sponge grounds, cold seeps and xenophyophore fields; and (ii) stronger consideration is given to methods in classical taxonomy, the chemical oceanographic setting and community ecology.

Recovery Trends in Marine Mammal Populations

Marine mammals have greatly benefitted from a shift from resource exploitation towards conservation. Often lauded as symbols of conservation success, some marine mammal populations have shown remarkable recoveries after severe depletions. Others have remained at low abundance levels, continued to decline, or become extinct or extirpated. Here we provide a quantitative assessment of (1) publicly available population-level abundance data for marine mammals worldwide, (2) abundance trends and recovery status, and (3) historic population decline and recent recovery. We compiled 182 population abundance time series for 47 species and identified major data gaps. In order to compare across the largest possible set of time series with varying data quality, quantity and frequency, we considered an increase in population abundance as evidence of recovery. Using robust log-linear regression over three generations, we were able to classify abundance trends for 92 spatially non-overlapping populations as Significantly Increasing (42%), Significantly Decreasing (10%), Non-Significant Change (28%) and Unknown (20%). Our results were comparable to IUCN classifications for equivalent species. Among different groupings, pinnipeds and other marine mammals (sirenians, polar bears and otters) showed the highest proportion of recovering populations, likely benefiting from relatively fast life histories and nearshore habitats that provided visibility and protective management measures. Recovery was less frequent among cetaceans, but more common in coastal than offshore populations. For marine mammals with available historical abundance estimates (n = 47), larger historical population declines were associated with low or variable recent recoveries so far. Overall, our results show that many formerly depleted marine mammal populations are recovering. However, data-deficient populations and those with decreasing and non-significant trends require attention. In particular, increased study of populations with major data gaps, including offshore small cetaceans, cryptic species, and marine mammals in low latitudes and developing nations, is needed to better understand the status of marine mammal populations worldwide.

Determining the Feasibility of Establishing New Multiple-Use Marine Protected Areas in Chile

This paper evaluates the feasibility of establishing a multiple-use marine protected area. The methodology was applied to evaluate three proposed sites in Chile with diverse conservation needs, social stress and poverty levels, and different economic activities (small-scale fishing, heavy industry, and mining activities). We use two broad categories for the evaluation: socio-economic and political–institutional. The methodology uses a combination of secondary data with personal interviews, workshops, and focus groups with stakeholders (e.g., fishermen, unions, politicians, social organizations) from different political, social, and economic backgrounds to characterize current and potential natural and social resources and to evaluate in an ordinal scale the feasibility of establishing the protected area. The methodology allows us to correctly identify the challenges faced in each site and can be used to develop appropriate strategies for balancing economic, social, and environmental objectives. This methodology can be replicated to evaluate the feasibility of other marine or terrestrial protected areas.

The Making of Environmental Subjectivity in Managing Marine Protected Areas: A Case Study from Southeast Cebu

This paper documents and examines the attributes, contradictions, and conflicts that arise in creating environmental subjects in the management of protected areas. Drawing upon a case study of a marine protected area (MPA) located in the Philippines, the paper shows that even when the protected area is coercively imposed, many local villagers may become environmental subjects through direct and indirect participation in various activities. However, the material presented in this paper also demonstrates that their conservationist behaviors only persist to the extent that these behaviors do not conflict with locally embedded social values and practices. It suggests that being attentive to the development of environmental subjectivity while allowing more flexibility in MPA design and management is an important way forward.

Towards marine ecosystem based management in South Florida: Investigating the connections among ecosystem pressures, states, and services in a complex coastal system

Marine ecosystem based management plans are gaining popularity with natural resource managers, but examples of their successful implementation remain few. The complexity inherent in marine ecosystems presents a major obstacle to understanding how individual ecosystem pressures impact multiple ecosystem states that in turn impact the provisioning of ecosystem services. To create and implement successful ecosystem based management plans will require tools for understanding these processes. Over the past three years integrated conceptual ecosystem models of the coastal marine environment have been developed as part of the Marine and Estuarine Goal Setting for South Florida (MARES) project. Here we use these conceptual models in conjunction with a modified DPSIR model, expert opinion and matrix-based analyses to explore the direct and indirect relative impact of 12 ecosystem pressures on 11 ecosystem states and 11 ecosystem services identified through MARES. Within the South Florida coastal ecosystem the most pervasive pressures were freshwater delivery, temperature effects of climate change, and impacts of climate change on weather. For the study region the least pervasive pressures were recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and invasive species. The most at risk ecosystem states, as determined by cumulative impacts were fish and shellfish, protected species, and marine birds. By the same measure, the least at risk states were oyster reefs and inshore flats. The most at risk ecosystem services were existence of a natural system, pristine wilderness experience, and non-extractive recreation. The least impacted ecosystem services were commercial extraction, recreational fishing and climate stability. When the relative direct and indirect (i.e. including state to state interactions) impacts of ecosystem pressures were traced to individual ecosystem services, it was apparent that within the study domain a lack of freshwater delivery to coastal estuaries was the predominant pressure, and recreational fishing had the lowest relative impact on the provisioning of ecosystem services. Through this expert opinion analysis and exploration of the interaction strength among various ecosystem pressures, states, and ecosystem services, we can begin to understand the diverse manners in which ecosystem services are impacted by various pressures. In so doing we provide a tool for resource managers to understand the trade-offs among individual user groups and the possible impact on provisioning of ecosystem services that may occur when considering various management strategies.

On the Right Way to Right Whale Protections in the Gulf of Maine—Case Study

For centuries, the right whale was abundant and inhabited both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. Almost 500 years of heavy harvesting brought the right whale to the verge of extinction. For whalers, the right whale was an easy and lucrative target. Its predictable, dilatory movement close to the shoreline, its tendency to float when dead, and its large amounts of high-quality oil made it the “right” whale to pursue. In 1937, whaling nations agreed to stop harvesting of the species. Although the North Atlantic right whale hunt is non-existent now, the recovery rate is still very low and faces several challenges. Ironically, despite a very successful, enforced ban on right whale hunting, the characteristics which made it so attractive to whalers are those that still threaten it today.

The North Atlantic right whale migration range is along the continental shelf waters of the eastern United States and Canada where there are high concentrations during the summer in the Gulf of Maine, the Bay of Fundy, and the Scotian Shelf; and off Florida where the winter calving grounds are located. This migration route runs adjacent to the most populated and industrialized areas of North America. Major anthropogenic activities affecting the marine environment include marine traffic, land-based industrial and agricultural pollution, degradation and loss of habitat, noise, and fishing gear entanglements.

In this article we examine the threats to right whales, the legal status of the right whale in the United States and Canada, evolving technology used to locate the right whale, and how these circumstances may be integrated in a right whale management and conservation plan. We conclude with the challenges and risks which may arise from such plans.

Sustainable development of rural coastal areas: Impacts of a new fisheries policy

In most EU coastal areas, over the last two decades, a significant employment and income shrink was observed; this was attributed to a gradual decline of fishery activities. Hence, the EU, in an attempt to restrain this decline and to safeguard a sustainable development of the coastal areas, initiated new measures within the current (2007–2013) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This work attempts to assess the effectiveness of this new policy, Axis 4 of the Operational Fisheries Programme, by measuring the employment and income effects upon the whole economy. The analysis was applied in a Greek coastal area as a case study. Results demonstrate that the employment and income generated, due to those measures, are relatively small mainly because of fund limitations and weak interactions in the local economy in a short-run timeline, though indirect benefits could occur in the long run.

Twenty thousand sterling under the sea: Estimating the value of protecting deep-sea biodiversity

The deep-sea includes over 90% of the world's oceans and is thought to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. It supplies society with valuable ecosystem services, including the provision of food, the regeneration of nutrients and the sequestration of carbon. Technological advancements in the second half of the 20th century made large-scale exploitation of mineral, hydrocarbon and fish resources possible. These economic activities, combined with climate change impacts, constitute a considerable threat to deep-sea biodiversity. Many governments, including that of the UK, have therefore decided to implement additional protected areas in their waters of national jurisdiction. To support the decision process and to improve our understanding for the acceptance of marine conservation plans across the general public, a choice experiment survey asked Scottish households for their willingness-to-pay for additional marine protected areas in the Scottish deep-sea. This study is one of the first to use valuation methodologies to investigate public preferences for the protection of deep-sea ecosystems. The experiment focused on the elicitation of economic values for two aspects of marine biodiversity: (i) the existence value for deep-sea species and (ii) the option value of deep-sea organisms as a source for future medicinal products.

Managing Rapana in the Black Sea: Stakeholder workshops on both sides

Rapana venosa is a non-indigenous invasive predator on bivalves in the Black Sea. A Rapana fishery has developed in the Black Sea since the 1980s, primarily in Turkey and Bulgaria. The Rapana fishery provides a complex management problem with three groups of objectives: 1. Good economic status; 2. Good environmental status and 3. Cost of implementation. To address the various conflicting objectives of this management problem an ecosystem approach was taken to analyze the problem. Stakeholder workshops were set up in Varna (Bulgaria) and Samsun (Turkey) to discuss and evaluate management alternatives based on environmental (MSFD), economic and implementation objectives. Workshops were attended by fishers, factory owners, nature conservation NGOs, biologists and government representatives. In these workshops multi-criteria analysis was used to communicate information on trade-offs between objectives to generate feedback from the stakeholders. This proved useful as a means to retrieve information from the stakeholders and to identify areas of consensus and conflict. Although the process differed substantially between the Bulgarian and Turkish case studies both workshops showed limited conflict between environmental status and socio-economic status. Analysis showed that the real-trade-off was between these two objectives and the cost of implementation both in terms of monetary expense as in terms of resistance from stakeholders.

Exploring the phronetic dimension of stakeholders' knowledge in EU fisheries governance

Fisheries management is said to be in a perpetual state of crisis, both globally and in Europe. The causes and possible remedies of these problems often create political controversy. Is the solution more and better science or more and better politics? Does one need to improve the former, the latter or both? Or is something else missing? This paper investigates these questions by drawing on social theory and theories of knowledge. The issue of science versus politics and the role of different knowledge perspectives from stakeholders in decision-making are discussed with reference to the Regional Advisory Councils within EU fisheries, in particular, the council for the Baltic Sea. It is argued that a lost ‘value-rationality’ and the aspects of phronetic knowledge and research need to be included in the highly instrumental and science-based EU fisheries policy system to establish environmental and social sustainability in the sector.

Developing marine historic environment management policy: The English Heritage experience

This paper provides an opportunity to examine the involvement of English Heritage in the development of policy and practice with particular regard to how archaeology and features of historic interest are addressed under national legislation, international conventions and EU law. In this paper we provide an explanation of action taken to support conservation, understanding and enjoyment of the historic environment, such as those sites that are legally protected as historic shipwreck sites, and other features that comprise the historic environment, but which are recognised and protected through other legal mechanisms e.g., military vessels and aeroplanes. It is apparent to us that when considering the management agenda for the marine environment attention is also given to archaeological material that predates tidal inundation, as well as the subsequent legacy of maritime activities. To support this approach we examine how the historic environment is defined and included in objectives, policy and law, such as the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, as well as other European or international programmes to promote marine policy and spatial planning. In the years since the National Heritage Act 2002, and the empowerment of English Heritage to support marine projects, we assess the production of explanatory statements and guidance to inform protection in recognition of how change may affect historic environment features. In addition, it is apparent that extensive development is now taking place further offshore (e.g., renewable power projects) and we direct attention at how English Heritage's role is affected by legally defined maritime territorial limits that dictate interpretation of what the marine environment comprises and how such limits influence regulatory controls placed on the management of cultural heritage.

One size does not fit all: The emerging frontier in large-scale marine conservation

On the 20th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a network of very large marine protected areas (the Big Ocean network) has emerged as a key strategy in the move to arrest marine decline and conserve some of the last remaining relatively undisturbed marine areas on the globe. Here we outline the ecological, economic and policy benefits of very large-scale MPAs and show their disproportionate value to global marine conservation targets. In particular we point out that very large-scale MPAs are a critical component of reaching the Aichi targets of protecting 10% of global marine habitats by 2020, because in addition to encompassing entire ecosystems, they will bring forward the expected date of achievement by nearly three decades (2025 as opposed to 2054). While the need for small MPAs remains critical, large MPAs will complement and enhance these conservation efforts. Big Ocean sites currently contain more than 80% of managed area in the sea, and provide our best hope for arresting the global decline in marine biodiversity.

Global assessment of the status of coral reef herbivorous fishes: evidence for fishing effects

On coral reefs, herbivorous fishes consume benthic primary producers and regulate competition between fleshy algae and reef-building corals. Many of these species are also important fishery targets, yet little is known about their global status. Using a large-scale synthesis of peer-reviewed and unpublished data, we examine variability in abundance and biomass of herbivorous reef fishes and explore evidence for fishing impacts globally and within regions. We show that biomass is more than twice as high in locations not accessible to fisheries relative to fisheries-accessible locations. Although there are large biogeographic differences in total biomass, the effects of fishing are consistent in nearly all regions. We also show that exposure to fishing alters the structure of the herbivore community by disproportionately reducing biomass of large-bodied functional groups (scraper/excavators, browsers, grazer/detritivores), while increasing biomass and abundance of territorial algal-farming damselfishes (Pomacentridae). The browser functional group that consumes macroalgae and can help to prevent coral–macroalgal phase shifts appears to be most susceptible to fishing. This fishing down the herbivore guild probably alters the effectiveness of these fishes in regulating algal abundance on reefs. Finally, data from remote and unfished locations provide important baselines for setting management and conservation targets for this important group of fishes.

The Shipping Industry and Marine Spatial Planning - A Professional Approach

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) will become an increasingly important issue for the shipping sector over the next few years. Maritime professionals need to engage with other users of waterways space, from both a sea and shore perspective, and to take part in international, regional, national and local MSP debates, to ensure that the needs of the shipping sector are taken into full consideration and that the sector understands the needs of other marine users and resources.

The Nautical Institute, together with the World Ocean Council, has put together this operational guide to the risks and benefits connected with the shipping industry that should be considered during the MSP process. This guidance seeks to outline just some of the many opportunities for engagement and issues to consider. It should be noted that this guidance only summarises some of the main issues, but does however provide reference to other industry documents for further technical and procedural details.

This guide has been specifically produced to aid maritime professionals to participate in MSP developments. For the purpose of brevity the guide assumes a certain level of maritime expertise and has not sought to clarify a number of maritime terms and definitions. Should this guide be used by non mariners (and we hope it is) it may be useful to seek further explanation of some issues by those familiar with maritime operations.

Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time

NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center has issued a new report on the state of marine protected areas 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, resources protected and ecological representativeness of MPAs in U.S. waters. It also features brief case studies in MPA management from around the country. For the first time, the U.S. reports data specifically focuseds on MPAs protected for natural heritage – the protection of ecosystems, biodiversity, habitats and species -- as well areas protected for their cultural resources and values. This focus on natural and cultural heritage MPAs provides greater comparability with the accepted international definition of MPAs established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which does not include areas established for fisheries management. Currently, MPAs focused on natural and cultural heritage cover approximately 8% of U.S. waters. International targets for MPA coverage established through the Convention on Biological Diversity and other commitments call for 10% of ocean and coastal areas to be conserved within MPAs by the year 2020.