Marine reserves gather steam

This is a nice piece in the WaPost by the wonderful Juliet Eilperin about two new Marine Protected Area networks. One inaccuracy is that the piece conflates marine reserves and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Marine reserves are a sub-category of MPA in which no extraction or other harmful activities are allowed. I also remain very concerned about enforcement – it doesn’t do a lot of good to name places as MPAs but then fail to enforce fishing regulations, which sadly is what happens in many if not most of the world’s MPAs. 

The Australian government is set to announce Thursday that it is creating the world’s largest network of marine reserves, a patchwork of protected areas covering more than 1.1 million square miles of ocean.

The move, which comes on the heels of California’s vote last week to create the largest marine reserve network in the United States, signals a growing movement to put some of the sea’s most ecologically valuable areas off-limits before they are damaged beyond repair. But they also reflect the political and economic pressures elected leaders face as they balance conservation with activities such as fishing and oil drilling.

The Australian plan, for example, angered commercial fishing interests while disappointing some environmentalists by falling short of the protections they envisioned. In California, the just-finalized network of state underwater parks drew complaints from a Native American tribe that said the new restrictions could infringe on its long-held harvesting rights.

Read it all here

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