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Marine Protected Area (MPA) is often used as an umbrella term covering a wide range of marine areas with some level of restriction to protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. A commonly used definition is the one developed by the World Conservation Union. It defines Marine Protected Area as "any area of the intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment.".
Because the term "MPA" has been used widely around the globe, its meaning in any one country or region may be quite different than the one above. There are many related terms such as SPA (Specially Protected Area), MR (Marine Reserve), MP (Marine Park), or ASC (Area of Special Conservation) which have specific types of restrictions associated with them, as defined by the laws of the state. One example of the many names used for ocean protected areas can be found by looking at the National MPA Inventory for the United States. 
Some see the purpose of MPAs as fully closed areas in where no human activities should be allowed, while others see MPAs as keenly managed areas designed to enhance use and productivity of an area. The permissions given within an MPA often depends on the objectives (see Types of MPAs) of its establishment.
Types of MPAs Edit
MPAs can be established for a multitude of reasons: to protect a certain species, to benefit fisheries management, or to protect full ecosystems, rare habitat, nursing grounds for fish. MPAs are also established to protect historical sites as shipwrecks and important cultural sites such as aboriginal fishing grounds. MPAs can be very large (Great Barrier Reef) or very small (Area Marina Protetta Capo Rizzuto).
Typical restrictions in MPAs include ones on fisheries, oil and gas mining and access for tourism. Other restrictions may include the use of ultrasonic devices like sonar (which confuse the guidance system of cetaceans), development and construction and the like.
Quite often protection of these areas has shown an increase in the numbers and diversity of marine life and improvement of the overall health of the system. With that said, MPAs often create an ecological success, but can in certain cases also have a negative impact on the local communities. Some of these impacts include interpersonal conflicts, lack of enforcement (if an MPA cannot be adequately marked on maps or by buoys, trespassing can occur), and the loss of fishing as an economic or food resource for the community.
MPAs can be found all around the world. Some well known ones with a page on Wikipedia include:
- The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia
- The Ligurian Sea Cetacean Sanctuary in the seas of Italy, Monaco and Spain
- The Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys, USA
See also Edit
- Marine park
- Marine reserve
- Special Area of Conservation
- Special Protection Area
- Protected areas
- U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries
- Christie, Patrick, "Marine Protected Areas and Biological Successes and Social Failures in Southeast Asia." School of Marine Affairs and Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. University of Washington. Washington. January 5th, 2004.
- Halpern, B. and R. Warner (2002). "Marine reserves have rapid and lasting effects." Ecology Letters 5: 361-366.
- Pauly, D. et al, "Towards sustainability in world fisheries." University of British Columbia, Canada. 2002
- Russ, G. R. and A. C. Alcala (2004). "Marine reserves: long-term protection is required for full recovery of predatory fish species." Oecologia 138: 622-627.
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