The Case for Mobile Marine Protected Areas

Friday, 13 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 210G (San Jose Convention Center)
Sara M. Maxwell,Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA
As dynamic ocean management advances, it is opening the door to the creation of dynamic or mobile marine protected areas. Mobile marine protected areas would utilize boundaries that follow the movements of highly- or semi-mobile marine species (e.g., whales, sea turtles, tunas) or dynamic marine habitats (e.g., eddies, fronts) that may serve as important pelagic ecosystem features or hotspots for many marine species. Mobile marine protected areas could better protect mobile species and habitats than stationary marine protected areas following animals and habitats as they vary over across time scales, including seasons, years and due to climate change. Different than dynamic management areas for specific industries (e.g., dynamic fishery closures), mobile marine protected areas could focus on protecting specific habitats or species, not on managing a specific marine industry, thereby protecting species or habitats from a suite of impacts.  While no examples of mobile marine protected areas currently exist, the scientific, analytical and information-sharing technologies exist to support their design, designation, monitoring and enforcement. To make dynamic marine protected areas a reality, several gaps need to be filled. First, some issues of compliance and enforcement, some of which extend to stationary marine protected areas as well, need to be addressed.  Second, we need case studies in politically tractable regions of the world, demonstrating the feasibility of mobile marine protected areas. Third, we need to be able to better link animal movements and protection to population level impacts on species.  Finally, we need legislative capability to apply dynamic marine protected areas, particularly on the high seas where many mobile species spend large portions of their life histories.