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Authors

Susan E. Farady

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Americans are accustomed to the idea that certain natural areas on land are more restrictively managed than other areas in order to protect unique habitat, wildlife, or natural features. The act of drawing a boundary around an area and designating it as a wildlife refuge, for example, implies a heightened level of protection for that land because it is a unique location for wildlife. A key threshold question regarding management of such areas is “what activities are allowed within them?” Restrictions on human activities generally reflect larger management goals regarding necessary resource protection and appropriate levels of human access for different types of protected areas. For example, a national park with paved roads, parking lots, and campsites allows a wider range of human activities and impact upon resources compared to a remote wilderness area with sensitive habitat where all motor vehicles are prohibited and only primitive camping is allowed. During the last century, terrestrial protected areas, such as parks and refuges, which restrict human activity, have been established to protect ecosystems, natural beauty, and native species in large part because of concerns regarding the rapid loss of terrestrial wilderness. The public generally accepts these terrestrial protected areas. Despite growing concerns about the state of ocean ecosystems, this approach regarding the use of protected areas has not translated well to the marine environment, and we have a less sophisticated regime of protected areas in the ocean than on land.2Marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States tend to be established in an ad hoc fashion in response to various resource issues, such as fishery stock declines or proposed industrial uses, and are administered by various agencies with different, and sometimes contradictory or conflicting, management goals. The range of protections available within MPAs varies widely and is often quite controversial; many areas of the ocean lack protection of any kind.

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