Types and Design of Marine Protected Areas

Examples of Marine Protected areas include, marine reserves, marine sanctuaries, national parks and wildlife refuges. The image below shows the marine sanctuaries of the Californian Coast.

California Marine Sanctuary

MPAs vary depending on the types of activities that are permitted within the boundaries of the protected area. Below is a list of the different levels of protection found within MPAs.

  • Multiple Use: Allows extractive uses (like fishing) with some restrictions
  • No-Take: MPAs that allow people to use the area but prohibit extraction or any destruction to the area. These are also called marine reserves. An example would be the Papahanuamokuakea Marine National Monument, which doesn’t permit fishing.
  • No Impact: MPAs that allow people to use the area but extraction, disposal of possible pollutants, the installation of materials, and disruption to the environment of any kind is not premitted. These types of MPAs are rare; sometimes occur in research only zones.
  • No Access: MPAs that restrict all access to the area. Also, very rare and may only be used for research purposes (www.mpa.gov).

MPAs can also vary in terms of how long the area will be protected, which will have a significant impact on their overall success.

  • Permanent: These MPAs are protected indefinitely unless future legislation ends the protection
  • Conditional: These MPAs have the potential to continue into the future, but is reviewed periodically to see if it is meeting its objectives.
  • Temporary: These MPAs are designed to meet short-term conservation goals. This might include closing a fishery so that a particular species could recover (www.mpa.gov).

The level of protection that an MPA may have could also vary throughout the year.

  • Year-Round: MPAs that are in effect throughout the year. This would include all marine sanctuaries, national parks, refuges, and monuments.
  • Seasonal: MPAs that offer protection during specific time periods when sensitive ecological processes are taking place such as spawning, breeding or feeding.
  • Rotating: MPAs that move between particular geographic areas to achieve short term conservation goals. These are still rare in the U.S (www.mpa.gov).
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