Monitoring and Enforcement of Marine Protected Areas

Several large remote marine protected areas have been established in United States’ waters in recent years, and more are likely in the near future, both within US national boundaries and on the high seas. Resolving the challenges of enforcing regulations within these areas will become more urgent as fishing depletes coastal resources and moves into deeper and more remote areas.

Given the logistical and economical challenges of monitoring large expanses of ocean, achieving public compliance to regulations is a very important component of effective protection. New surveillance technologies can increase monitoring capability and guide law enforcement personnel to suspicious activities.

Marine Conservation Institute has worked with enforcement agencies in the southeastern US, the Pacific marine monuments and west coast national marine sanctuaries to optimize surveillance and enforcement capacity for recently designated large marine protected areas. This includes evaluating current monitoring and enforcement strategies, identifying potential improvements and assessing new methods of monitoring human activity. We have evaluated numerous new technologies for monitoring and enforcement in marine protected areas, including: high frequency radar, passive sonar, satellite radar photography and vessel tracking and autonomous sailboats. Currently, we are working towards pilot testing autonomous sailboats to document fishing violators.

Surveillance and enforcement of regulations on the high seas are even more challenging than within US jurisdiction. Marine Conservation Institute is working not only to create marine protected areas on the high seas, but also to ensure that regulations are enforced effectively through international partnerships and collaborations.