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A Primer on Marine Protected Areas

The best plans, the best intentions, and the best governance of marine protected areas (MPA) are not sufficient. There must be enforcement, observation, policing, prosecution of violators, and heavy fines. High tech solutions are needed, such as satellite monitoring that may be more cost effective than the old – patrol and apprehend methods. We must harness technologies created for military purposes for the enforcement of MPA laws. Monitoring is also crucial. We need to be able to measure progress (or lack thereof) so that we know the impact we’re having and have the opportunity to make adjustments. There are also financial obstacles to creating MPAs. For MPAs to realize their full benefits, there needs to be a plan for them to become financially self-sustaining over time. MPAs can be attractive to tourists, and a portion of fishing revenues can support MPA activities. Blue carbon is another possibility and other innovative ideas are being discussed. The science has documented the benefits that can come from MPAs. The best practices to optimize success have been identified. The challenge in making 10 x 20 a reality will be in the 6 implementation and governance arenas, making enforcement strong and cost-effective, financing the transition, and creating plans to make sure that the MPAs become self-sustaining financially over the long haul.