Management and Enforcement

We fully support any international body or framework that provides a global vision for the establishment of marine reserves. If any international organization takes MPAs up as a key issue, it can provide unifying ideals, principles, and moral support for the endeavor. Indeed, for waters outside the jurisdiction of coastal states, some form of binding international agreement would provide the most and perhaps only form of effective management (Molenaar 2004).

For more on international issues

However, given that the majority of damaging human activity happens within the jurisdictional control of countries, we contend that most details of implementation and enforcement can best be handled on a national or regional basis. Additionally, since most marine reserves will be located within territorial seas and exclusive economic zones, states have a sovereign legal right to manage them as environmental and economic issues (United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty 1982).

The vast majority of nations have legislative and financial machinery that can be used to mandate and fund the creation of MPAs, something lacked by virtually all current international bodies. Also, most states have preexisting infrastructure related to land-based conservation areas that can be expanded and adapted to meet the operational and enforcement needs of MPAs. In many cases, it may be effective to extend land-based protected areas offshore, thereby combining the operation of several different protected areas. In addition, the management and funding of such a combination can be explicitly handled by the management system for the land-based park. An entirely new agency will not need to be created and funded. This concept is already active in Italy's Baia and Baiolo National Parks, which are land-based but have jurisdiction over nearby marine reserves (Consentino 2005). There are numerous other locations where such combinations are possible (consider, for example, the pairing of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Massachusetts and the Cape Cod National Seashore) (Baumgardner et. al. 2005).

It is also true that many nations have currently operational systems of marine sanctuaries that could be expanded to meet a 10% goal. Using the United States as an example, comprehensive legislation such as the National Marine Sanctuaries Act already exists and has been in force for thirty-five years (16 United States Code § 1431). Although this is a reasonable beginning, such legislation does have significant room for improvement. The process for creating new marine sanctuaries can be greatly streamlined by placing less emphasis on the proving the benefits of reserves with respect to other management strategies (16 United States Code § 1431). Also, the United States National Marine Sanctuaries system must place a far greater emphasis on no-take reserves, which have not been emphasized in current plans (National Academy of Public Administration 2000). The legislation should also be strengthened to allow sanctuary managers a more direct ability to regulate fishing, boating, and other human activities within the reserves (Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary 2007). Finally, the law also needs to explicitly mandate and fund the creation of more reserves towards a 10% goal.

After the establishment of an MPAs, the major challenge is the enforcement of the regulations of the reserves. Once established, the borders should be relatively constant and the restrictions well-publicized, to avoid confusion among those wanting to fish near the reserves. Technology can greatly assist in the monitoring of marine protected areas. One possibility is to require GPS-based transponders on all boats to ensure they do not cross protected borders without authorization. Another related technological possibility is satellite-based remote sensing. Relevant management authorities can then use data from such sources to locate violators and the locations in which infringement occurs, while minimizing the need for extensive and costly patrols. One interesting extension would international sharing of enforcement data, which would allow in principle for broader and more effective enforcement.

For more on GPS tracking technology

There are also simple, non-technological ways to limit the number of violations of marine protected areas. The most important is important to foster a positive local attitude towards the protected areas. This will have the effect of creating a network of peer surveillance in which fishers will mutually enforce the statutes and regulations (Jones 2004). In practice, an effective system of peer surveillance has been shown to be the most effective enforcement method for any management practice (Russ, Alcala, & Maypa 2003). This fact again highlights the general principle that broad acceptance of these reserves is a key factor in their success.

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