Marine Protected Areas: Parks for the Oceans!
Terrestrial vs. Marine Systems
What is an MPA?
Purpose of an MPA
MPAs in Canada
Elsewhere in the world...
It's not easy being green...
many years, the ocean was considered to be a bottomless
resource, but now we can easily see that this is not
the case. Over-fishing, global warming, pollution, and
habitat destruction are among the many problems that
marine organisms must face. Humans have become public
enemy number one! Several strategies are now used in
order to minimize human impact on the ocean. For instance,
there are fishing, whaling, and harvesting restrictions
or bans on many species. More care is taken not to pollute
the oceans. Many conservation groups have formed that
place emphasis on protecting the marine environment.
marine protected areas have been formed!
Terrestrial vs. Marine Systems:
marine reserve cannot be set-up or managed in the same
way as a terrestrial reserve because there are many differences
between the two systems. Generally speaking, just less
information is known about marine systems. In order to
successfully protect an ecosystem, researchers need to
know about how the organisms in that ecosystem live and
how they interact with one another. Marine systems are
also affected but a much larger area due to the fluid
dynamic of the system. Animals generally travel longer
distances, and it is easier for pollution from far away
to affect a distant part of the ocean. Marine processes
also tend to be more unpredictable, perhaps because we
know less about them. Because of these differences, marine
systems must be managed in their own, unique way.
What is an MPA?
parks have existed for hundreds of years, but even though
the marine environment is the largest biome on Earth,
is the it wasn't until 60 years ago that the first Marine
Protected Area (MPA) was created. The question "What
is an MPA?" is still very difficult to answer. Here
are just a few definitions suggested by various governments
area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with
its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical
and cultural features, which has been reserved by law
or other effective means to protect part or all of the
-The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
refers to any offshore or coastal area that is legally designated
to protect plants, animals, or ecosystems"
-Canadian Wildlife Service
an area of the sea that forms part of the internal waters of Canada
(12 nautical miles) or the exclusive economic zone of Canada (to 200 nautical
miles); and has been designated for special protection under the Oceans Act for
one or more purposes"
-Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada
an area of sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance
of biodiversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed
through legal or other effective means"
Purpose of MPAs:
is easy for everyone to have a slightly different definition
of an MPA, because MPAs can provided a wide variety of
functions depending on the goals of the people in charge
and the needs of the area. For instance, MPAs range from "no
take" zones, where no extraction of natural resources
can take place, to "multiple use" areas, which
allow sustainable use of resources, recreational, research,
and educational activities. Marine Protected Areas cannot
protect marine life against all threats, but they are
useful in preventing over-harvesting, destruction of
coastal habitat, and some types of pollution.
has the longest coastline of any country in the world
(244 000km)! Check out DFO's Marine Protected Area site for the most up-to-date information!
Who creates MPAs in Canada?
has several governmental agencies that are legislated
in set-up MPAs. In British Columbia, MPAs are developed by:
Parks Canada (National Marine Conservation Areas - NMCAs
Environment Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Race Rocks is one of Canada's MPA's. Race Rocks is a diverse habitat found just off
the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
The unususally strong currents surrounding Race Rocks
bring in lots of nutrients to support a diverse population
of invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals. In 1980 students
at the local Lester B. Pearson College had Race Rocks
designated as an Ecological Reserve. The students, the
provincial and federal governments, and the local Coast
Salish First Nations worked together cooperatively, considering
the needs of all people involved. Now, harvesting of
living resources from Race Rocks is prohibited, except
subject to existing Aboriginal and treaty rights. The
purpose of this MPA is to conserve endangered and threatened
species and their habitat. What an excellent example
of people working together to achieve a common goal!
Check out the awesome Race Rock website created and maintained
by Lester B. Pearson students.
in the world...
and New Zealand are two other countries, among others,
that have had great success in establishing MPAs. Australia
boasts the world's two largest MPAs: Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park, and the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.
Great Barrier Reef Park is patrolled on a daily basis
by boats and planes to make sure all is in order. This
site is used primarily for educational and recreational
purposes. New Zealand has successfully established more than 25 MPAs.
not easy being green...
we would all like to see what is best for the environment,
conservationists have to take into account ecology (the
environment), economics (the needs of fishermen, eco-tourism
companies), and sociology (the needs of the community
and the rights of First Nations) when creating an MPA.
Because these needs often conflict, it makes it very
difficult to come to a common solution. We maybe less
concerned about protecting the marine environment because
we can't see the damage we do to the ocean - "Out
of sight, out of mind". But, working together, we
can come up with solutions that will protect our marine
environment and consider human requirements as well!
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