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US SeaStates 2014


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Few states provide strong protection for marine ecosystems. There is still an enormous need for ocean protection. People’s lives and livelihoods depend critically on healthy oceans, but human activities now threaten marine life and, hence, our lives. Marine biologists recommend creating strong no-take marine reserves to safeguard marine life. While many coastal states and territories have established scattered marine protected areas, these zones are often weak and temporary, offering few benefits to marine life and people. In contrast, no-take marine reserves are free from extractive activities such as fishing, mining and oil & gas development. Protecting biodiversity increases the abundance of fishes and promotes the quantity of marine life exported to surrounding areas, securing food resources for millions of people.

This year we expanded our analysis to waters between the limit of state jurisdiction and the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which includes waters out to 200 nautical miles (230.16 statute miles) from the coast. Very few no-take areas exist in the US EEZ. While there are a large number of fishing regulations, only the Southeast Region (0.02% no-take area) and the Pacific Islands (6.47% no-take area) protect more than a single square mile of their region with no-take marine reserves.

The best-protected states and territories are American Samoa, California, and the US Virgin Islands. In the last year, Oregon was the only US state to increase protection of its waters. Disappointingly, the majority of states do not have marine reserves in their coastal waters, which generally include all marine area within 3 nautical miles from shore.