As of the end of 2017, the US has 23.2% of its waters in strongly protected MPAs. State and territorial waters have 1.3% of their waters in “strongly protected” MPAs while 23.9% of federal waters out to 200nm are strongly protected. It should be noted that if the Pacific Islands are removed from the analysis, only 1.0% of state waters and 0.01% of federal waters are in “strongly protected” MPAs.
Oceans are essential to human survival and prosperity, yet our activities are pushing many critical marine species toward extinction. Marine biologists suggest that the best way to maintain the oceans’ diversity, abundance and resilience is to protect marine life in their ecosystems, especially in marine protected areas (MPAs) that minimize extractive activities such as fishing, mining and oil and gas development.
However, numerous MPAs lack the regulations and design characteristics critical to ensuring they successfully safeguard marine life. No-take marine reserves, in contrast, prohibit all extractive activities and deliver the conservation benefits that marine life need to thrive. Protecting biodiversity in marine reserves increases the abundance and diversity of marine life exported to surrounding areas, both securing food resources for millions of people and preventing loss of species. In this report we group these fully protected no-take marine reserves with large and isolated strongly protected MPAs3 where commercial extraction is prohibited, recreational fishing is by permit, carefully managed and highly restrictive, and subsistence use is minimal.
SeaStates is a rigorous, quantitative account of strongly protected MPAs in the waters of US coastal states and territories updated annually by the team at the Atlas of Marine Protection (mpatlas.org). First published in 2013, our annual reports are intended to be a tool to measure and evaluate the progress towards effective marine protection in US waters.
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