Examining the Conservation Level of Marine Management Areas within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: How Protected is the Sanctuary?


Jason Adelaars, Megan Bassett, Nicholas Donlou, Corina Marks, Beth Pardieck, James Lindholm
California State University, Monterey Bay

The growing number of marine managed areas in state and federal waters of the US has created within selected stakeholder groups the impression that "everywhere is protected." That impression has fueled debates on the east and west coasts as to whether any additional management is required, though important questions remain unanswered as to whether everywhere is indeed protected. To directly investigate the accuracy of the widely-held impression, we created a scoring system based on selected attributes of managed areas within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (central California) to quantify the level of protection provided by each management area individually, as well as cumulatively in locations where multiple managed areas overlap. We found that despite having a large number of managed areas the relative level of conservation within the Sanctuary is low. Furthermore, we found a noticeable difference in the level of conservation between state and federal waters, with near-shore state waters generally having higher conservation than off-shore federal waters. These results provide important context as the Sanctuary and its many collaborating state and federal agencies move forward with spatial approaches to management.

Key Words:

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, marine management areas, marine protected areas, marine conservation, marine resource management, regulations