Marine Protected Areas are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment.
This can include limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings, bans on removing or disrupting marine life of any kind.
In some situations MPA’s also provide revenue for countries, often of equal size as the income that they would have if they were to grant companies permissions to fish.
As of 2010, the world hosted more than 6,800 MPAs.
In the United States there are nearly 2,000 MPAs and in 2008 a new federal framework was established, which aims to:
Enhance protection of marine resources, build partnerships to address issues affecting MPAs, and improve public access to scientific information and decision-making about marine resources.
While MPAs have been established throughout the U.S. for decades, there has not been an overarching mechanism to coordinate effective ecosystem management. About 100 federal, state, territory and tribal agencies manage the nearly 2,000 MPAs across the country, often with no coordinated strategy.
via NOAA blog
You have probably visited one before:
Chances are you’ve visited a marine protected area and don’t know it. If you’ve gone fishing in central California, diving in the Florida Keys, camping in Acadia, swimming in Cape Cod, snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, birding in Weeks Bay, hiking along the Olympic Coast, or boating in Thunder Bay, you’ve probably been one of thousands of visitors to a marine protected area (MPA).
Learn more at www.mpa.gov