The majority of our work focuses on identifying, advocating for, and implementing Marine Protected Areas - MPAs. At bare minimum, an MPA is an area in the oceans legally designated for protection. But marking a place on a map isn't enough to achieve conservation. Enforcement and compliance are vital.
What we strive for are effectively managed, well-enforced MPAs. "Enforcement" is sometimes a dirty word to conservation groups which prefer to focus only on policy, research, or public advocacy. All of those are vital. But unless managers have the boats, planes, personnel, and other resources to educate the public and effectively patrol their MPAs, these areas will remain vulnerable to illegal fishing ... trespassing ... shipwrecks and groundings ... dumping and pollution ... and other threats.
Shipwreck on Palmyra Atoll damaging corals (USGS)
To address the gap between "paper parks" and true marine protection, Marine Conservation Institute has established a Marine Law Enforcement Program. We are working with agencies to build expertise and identify new management options and technologies for stronger enforcement. In Hawaii
, our Pacific Island Conservation team recently conducted a workshop with the US Coast Guard, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to evaluate enforcement needs for the far-flung Pacific Island marine national monuments. Later this month, we will present the results of our work at an MPA enforcement conference in San Francisco and share our knowledge with over 150 colleagues. Over the next two years, we will work with these agencies to implement our report's recommendations.
US Coast Guard cutter seizes suspected illegal fishing vessel (USCG)
In California, we are focusing on marine areas adjacent to and overlapping the jurisdiction of the National Marine Sanctuaries to identify enforcement needs and assist in collaboration between state and federal enforcement agencies. Similarly, we are part of a team working to identifying threats to the Sargasso Sea, in order to foster action by the government of Bermuda and its international partners to protect this one-of-a-kind marine ecosystem.
Our Surveillance and Enforcement of Remote Maritime Areas project is focused on new management and technology tools for marine enforcement. Innovation and cost-effective solutions are vital to combat illegal fishing, poaching of protected species, and other threats. Please support this work, so we can assist the dedicated officers who protect ocean wildlife and habitats.