• A Review of Marine Zones in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

    A Review of Marine Zones in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

    Entire Document (pdf, 6.9MB)

    Executive Summary (pdf, 896K)
    This report reviews marine zoning in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). The 72 zoned areas in the MBNMS are of 13 different zone types. Each marine zone type has associated regulations that restrict or promote specific activities. For example, recreational activities such as boating, fishing, tidepooling, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving are limited in some zones. Scientific research is allowed at all sites, with appropriate permits, and is specifically promoted in a few sites. In addition, motorized personal watercraft use, dredge material disposal, large vessel traffic, jade collection, and aircraft overflight are allowed only in specific zones. The effectiveness of the marine zoning in the MBNMS is difficult to determine for two reasons. Firstly, many of the zones lack a clearly stated purpose or have confusing regulations. Secondly, the majority of the zones have not been evaluated formally by the managing agencies. Of the zones that have been evaluated, such as Dredge Material Disposal zones, Big Creek MRPA Ecological Reserve, and Pt. Lobos State/Ecological Reserve, the majority appear to be achieving their mandated purpose to some extent.

    Many of the zones in the MBNMS fall under the title "marine reserve." Marine reserves have recently received significant attention internationally, nationally, and in California due to their potential for: improving the status of exploited species; protecting marine habitats and ecosystems from degradation; facilitating scientific research and fisheries management; and increasing ecotourism. However, reserves must be well designed and managed to reach this potential. A well designed and managed reserve will have clearly defined goals, scientifically-based design, proper enforcement of regulations, rigorous evaluation of the reserve's effectiveness, and adaptive management. Based on these criteria, the majority of the marine reserves in California are not well designed or managed. However, the State of California has recognized this problem and is in the process of re-evaluating the California system of marine managed areas.

    Key Words: marine zones, marine reserves, marine protected areas, regulations, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Central California

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