Marine Protected Areas in North Carolina
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The current array of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the U.S. has been designated haphazardly by a variety of agencies, under the authority of different legislation. MPAs are often established without clearly defined objectives and they lack a scientific foundation. Further, many MPAs are subject to overlapping or conflicting jurisdictions and regulations, with limited management coordination. Executive Order 13158, issued in May 2000, seeks to address these issues by requiring an assessment of MPAs, which will be used to strengthen MPA management and to develop a system of MPAs. The assessment, and ultimately a list of MPAs, will be based on data compiled in the Marine Managed Area (MMA) Inventory. The MMA Inventory was conducted in North Carolina from October 2003 – February 2004. There are 108 MMAs in North Carolina, ranging from fisheries areas to coastal reserves to national and state parks. This paper focuses on the 97 state and de facto sites that were compiled during the state inventory process. For the 97 MMAs, management authority and responsibility are split among 13 different entities. These MMAs were established for different reasons, they offer varying degrees of resource protection, they lack evaluation measures, and they frequently overlap with other MMAs. Preliminary analysis reveals a need for improved coordination and integration. California’s Marine Life Protection Act and Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act offer a model for North Carolina to draw from and suggest that North Carolina can improve MPA management by developing a master plan and a system of MPAs. For MPA management to be effective and efficient, policies must consider the following factors: minimal duplication and overlap, consistent management, clearly defined authority and responsibility, protection of representative resources & habitats, integration across the land/sea interface, and reliable funding. The inventory will be a useful source of information and a practical planning and management tool as North Carolina attempts to rationalize MPA management.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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