5 amazing marine protected areas and why we need them

Have you ever taken a ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park or fished halibut off the coast of Alaska? If your answer is “yes”, chances are you found yourself in one of our country’s marine reserves (also known as marine reserves) without realizing it. There are over 1,700 marine protected areas in the US, serving different purposes and varying levels of protection, although some may be a little more fascinating than others.

Activity limits for nature reserves

In marine protected areas, limit values ​​are set for human activities in order to help protect certain ecosystems, fisheries or cultural resources. These limits are based on scientific research and can be set by all levels of government. A variety of habitats can be included in the activity boundaries of nature reserves, e.g. B. the ocean, coastal areas, intertidal zones, estuaries and the Great Lakes.

Examples of marine protection or protected areas. These examples of marine protected areas will remind you how amazing and complex our ecosystems can be.

1. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

About 70 miles west of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is known not only for the home of historic Fort Jefferson, but also for its magnificent coral reefs and abundance of marine life. Commercial fishing is not permitted in Dry Tortugas National Park, and recreational fishing is restricted to protect the diverse species of fish that can be found in this federal reserve.

2. Research areas for diving fisheries in Southeast Alaska, Alaska

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has restricted commercial diving fishing in these research areas, with an emphasis on sustainable production. The dive fishing research areas in southeast Alaska protect three species of invertebrates: sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and geoducks. To support these species’ efforts to protect fisheries, the impact of commercial diving fishing is assessed on a rotating calendar. In this way, depending on the type and evaluation result, invertebrate stocks can be measured every two, three or more years or opened for commercial harvest.

3. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Michigan

This 4,300 square miles conservation area is located in northwestern Lake Huron. The sanctuary’s cold, fresh water preserves nearly 100 documented shipwrecks from the mid-19th century. Through ongoing research and training, the sanctuary and its supporters work to ensure that Thunder Bay’s underwater treasures are protected for future generations to witness firsthand.

4. Soquel Canyon State Marine Sanctuary, California

Soquel Canyon State Marine Conservation Area is an offshore conservation area in Monterey Bay. The steep and rocky walls of Soquel Canyon provide the ideal habitat for several depleted deep-water stonefish species. In addition, the conservation of this area helps preserve fragile deep water corals, preserve the feeding options for sea birds, and feed endangered blue whales.

5. Acadia National Park, Maine

The intertidal zone and estuaries in Acadia National Park are protected marine reserves. While these types of areas can make up a small portion of the park as a whole, they are an integral part of the ecosystem. For example, Acadia supports more than 1,000 different plant species that thrive in environments that range dramatically from tidal estuaries to acidic bogs to intertidal zones to freshwater lakes and ponds. Ecosystem and water conservation efforts in Acadia National Park are important to maintain the natural balance.

Once you’ve learned about some of the marine sanctuaries in the United States, there is a great way to find out how you can help protect your local fisheries by practicing the right catch and release. When you understand how to properly release your catch for the best chance of survival, you are contributing to the sustainability of your state’s fish populations for the future.

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