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Assessing the quantity and quality of marine protected areas in the Mariana Islands
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Assessing the quantity and quality of marine protected areas in the Mariana Islands

Angelo Villagomez assesses the quality of conservation efforts in the Mariana Islands, finding the importance of quality, quantity, and scale when determining effective conservation, especially in overlapping and contested jurisdictional authority areas.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are ubiquitous in global ocean conservation and play a pivotal role in achieving local, national, and regional area-based conservation targets. Often, such targets are merely met on “paper” and lack the political or managerial resources to produce positive conservation outcomes. Here, we apply the MPA Guide – a framework for assessing the quantity and quality of marine protected areas – to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), two U.S. territories in the Western Pacific. We reviewed the enabling legislation and applicable management documents for all MPAs (n=18). We found that all but three (3) MPAs in the Mariana Islands are actively managed, and these areas are either fully or highly protected – the highest tier of the MPA Guide. Lightly protected areas are associated with high use/high-density tourism activities. Total area protected varies at the jurisdictional scale: 0.83% of Guam’s territorial waters (out to 12 nm) and 23.73% of EEZ under some spatial management; CNMI has 20.39% of territorial waters and 25.91% of EEZ in MPAs. These results emphasize the importance of quality, quantity, and scale when determining effective conservation, especially in overlapping and contested jurisdictional authority areas.

The above excerpt was originally published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Click here to view the full article.

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Authors

Steven Mana‘oakamai Johnson

Post Doctoral Researcher

Angelo Villagomez

Senior Fellow

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