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Marine Ecosystems & Management (MEAM)

Results from MPA News Poll: Reader Response to Tighter Guidelines for What Is Considered a Marine Protected Area

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In our November/December 2012 issue, MPA News described how the World Commission on Protected Areas has recently provided greater clarity on the IUCN definition for marine protected area.  Namely, some sites that previously may have been considered MPAs - such as gear or temporal closures with no wider stated conservation aims, or community areas managed primarily for sustainable extraction of marine products, or single-species protected areas like shark sanctuaries - may be re-categorized as other types of spatial zoning, and no longer considered to be MPAs.

We asked you to indicate which of the following statements best reflected your perspective on this issue.  Results of the poll, conducted on OpenChannels.org, are indicated:

•  Statement A: This is a good development.  It brings greater clarity to the definition of MPAs and increases the value of the concept.  In general, we advance the field of MPAs by being more exclusive in what we consider to be an MPA, and focusing our attention on "true" MPAs that are dedicated to area-based conservation.  Result: 76% of respondents chose this statement

•  Statement B: This development hurts the conservation cause by devaluing legitimate management efforts that may not fit a strict definition but where conservation issues are nonetheless resolved using more limited protection tools.  It also puts up artificial "walls" between sites that otherwise may face common management challenges.  In general, we advance the field of MPAs by being more inclusive of what we consider to be an MPA.  Result: 14% of respondents chose this statement

•  Statement C: It does not really matter to me because I see the fundamental issue as increasingly taking into account the marine ecosystem as a whole.  MPAs will always be a tool in broader ecosystem thinking, whether meeting a strictly defined area management target or in dealing with the overarching question of improving management over the whole ecosystem. The proof is in the results.  Result: 10% of respondents chose this statement

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