Helping North America’s Marine Protected Areas

Written by on October 29, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law
Humpback whale breaching.

Humpback whale breaching. Photo credit: NOAA.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has recently released new guidelines designed to help North America’s marine protected areas adapt to climate change.

The guidelines–created by the CEC in collaboration with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and 33 North American experts–were launched last week at the Restore America’s Estuaries Conference in Tampa, Florida.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas designed to regulate human interaction with marine ecosystems.  While they are a valuable tool for conservation, they are still in danger of the effects of climate change: warming temperatures, rising sea level, shifting populations, etc.

The guidelines, designed to help planners, managers and scientists, are divided into four sections:

  1. Protect species and habitats with crucial ecosystem roles, or those of special conservation concern
  2. Protect potential carbon sinks
  3. Protect ecological linkages and connectivity pathways for a wide range of species
  4. Protect the full range of biodiversity present in the target biogeographic area

There are nearly 2,000 MPAs in North America and hopefully these new guidelines will inspire collaboration between nations and help make MPAs more effective when it comes to protecting the ocean.

Starfish along the shore in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington State.

Starfish along the shore in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington State. Photo credit NOAA/National Marine Sanctuary system.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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