How Well Does Your State Protect Its Waters?

Written by on August 11, 2014 in Other News, Policy & Ocean Law

Last month, Marine Conservation Institute released a report detailing the level of protection each U.S. state gives to marine life, seafood and coasts. The report, SeaStates 2014: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters?, reveals that most states aren’t doing much.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a network of reserves that includes several no-take areas. Photo credit: NOAA.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a network of reserves that includes several no-take areas. Photo credit: NOAA.

Studies have shown that in order to maintain productive ecosystems, at least 20 percent of states’ waters need to be protected. Not a single state in the U.S. comes close to that level of protection.

Several states have established some kind of marine protected areas, but according to the report, they are often “weak and temporary, offering few benefits to marine life and people.” No-take marine reserves, however, offer full protection for marine life by prohibiting all activities, including fishing, mining, and oil and gas development. That’s why Marine Conservation Institute and many scientists recommend no-take reserves as the best option for protecting marine life.

SeaStates 2014, compiled using, an interactive resource with information about marine protected areas around the world, ranks coastal states based on their no-take areas.

Report highlights:

  • California leads the way, protecting over five percent of their waters in no-take areas.
  • CA is followed by Florida, Washington, Hawaii, Virginia, and North Carolina, all of which have protected up to one percent of their coastal waters as no-take areas.
  • Sixteen coastal states (Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas) have not protected any of their waters with no-take marine areas.
  • Oregon was the only state to increase protection of its waters in the last year.
Screenshot from

Screenshot from

“It is crazy that, in this country, states aren’t doing more to protect such a critical resource,” Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute, said in a news release. “We rely on our oceans for so many things including food, to absorb carbon dioxide in the air, economic gains and more. It is ludicrous to treat the oceans as if they are an endless resource that we can continue to harm at will.”

To learn more:

Copyright © 2014 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. .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Find MST on Instagram Connect with MST on Google Plus

Comments are closed.