Marine Protected Areas in the United States is often established and operated by all levels of state government and has come in various forms. All these locations vary from marine reserves in Africa, the Caribbean, and Alaska to recreational areas on the East Coast and offshore locations in Florida and California.
Marine Protected Areas can be established for many reasons. Many have been established as ecological reserves. Others protect endangered species and habitats. In fact, over two-thirds of the world's marine species are protected by one or more MPAs. There are marine parks that focus on breeding marine mammals, protected areas for endangered birds, and marine sanctuaries that house a wide variety of marine life.
Some MPAs are created as protection of fisheries in waters off their shores. These areas are generally maintained as sanctuaries, because fishing is not allowed and no one is allowed to interfere with the natural habitat in any way. These sanctuaries also provide the marine life with a protected habitat so that they do not become over-populated or endangered.
There are several types of MPAs on the national level, but there are also some regional ones. In the East, MPAs exist in several parts of the Eastern seaboard. In the Western states, they are generally located in inland lakes, reservoirs, and other natural water bodies.
As mentioned, MPAs are typically set aside for protecting ecosystems or sustaining various ecological processes. They can be constructed to protect endangered species, maintain aquatic ecosystems or prevent the degradation of certain habitats due to over-fishing. While each MPA may not cover every aspect of the environment, they can be used together to protect many aspects of ecosystems.
The largest MPAs are the ones that cover vast expanses of land. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and the Great Barrier Reef, are a few examples. Some of the most important and popular MPAs on the planet are the ones set aside for the protection of the Great Blue Hole, the largest underwater cave system on earth. The creation of the Marine National Parks and Preserves system has allowed the recovery of over one hundred and fifty different species of fish.
There are also some very unique, limited areas that have an MPA. Alaska's Arctic National Park allows hunters to hunt walrus and narwhals, while the Alaska Sea Life Protection Program allows the animals to be hunted on a seasonal basis only.
MPAs can only be created once every five years, making it important to research the various areas in which they can be located and their protection. It is also important to understand the policies of your local state and federal government before beginning a project that will affect their area of jurisdiction. Knowing how your MPA will affect the environment and its natural habitats is the first step in protecting them. These sites provide a great example of the benefits of conservation for the environment and the . . . . . . benefits to the world we live in today.
When deciding on whether or not you should create an MPA, there are many factors to consider. Some of the main concerns are ensuring a healthy and sustainable ecosystem, maintaining biodiversity, providing opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing, and ensuring that local people are able to use the area for future generations. It is important to evaluate how much time and money you are willing to invest into the project and what type of effects you would like to avoid.
It is also important to consider the impact the MPA will have on your area of interest. Many people find that the creation of an MPA is a great way to preserve important cultural landscapes or historical landscapes. For example, the New England Conservation Trust (NECT) and the Nellie O. Davis National Historical Park were created in order to preserve the land around the Nellie O. Davis family's home.
Creating an MPA is one of the greatest decisions you can make when conserving the environment, as well as the world we live in today. As you consider the options available, you will find that your decisions are informed by your personal interests and knowledge. If you don't have any experience with the subject, it may be helpful to visit a national park or aquarium, visit a local university or college, or speak with a conservation specialist.
Whether you know someone who has experience, or you want to educate yourself, learning about conservation efforts is the best way to get the information you need to make the best conservation choices. There is a lot of information available and it can become overwhelming at times, but if you follow the instructions you will be guided through the process.