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Contributions of National Marine Sanctuaries and Other Marine Protected Areas
In addition to their direct economic contribution, national marine sanctuaries and other MPAs contribute in other ways to our nation's economy and security:
- Help protect America's food security. Marine protected areas, particularly no-take marine reserves, increase the biomass of fish and other species that have important commercial and subsistence value, making us less dependent on foreign fisheries.
- Drive sustainable economic growth. Marine protected areas promote economic growth for coastal communities by sustaining tourism, recreation, and fisheries. Marine protected areas such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Glacier Bay National Park, and Fire Island National Seashore attract thousands of visitors drawn by vibrant marine life, fishing opportunities, birdwatching, whale watching, and opportunities to relax and connect with nature.
- Help buffer the impacts of climate change. The long-term, place-based nature of marine protected areas helps address climate change impacts by providing a focal area for management and science to reduce other ocean stressors, monitor conditions and trends, and engaging the public. They also protect habitats such as seagrass beds, mangroves, and salt marshes that are proven to store carbon.
- Reduce America's disaster risk and costs. By protecting key habitats like barrier islands, coral reefs, and wetlands, marine protected areas protect vulnerable shorelines from the impacts of coastal storms. As Superstorm Sandy illustrated, these natural habitats can provide invaluable protection to nearby coastal communities from high waves and storm surge. Such protection helps mitigate the exponentially higher costs of response and restoration that come with such events.