Marine Protected Areas — do they work?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a source of pride, ire and debate in coastal communities the world over.

Later this year, NOAA fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council will make an important decision about MPAs in New England. It has been 16 years since NOAA and the council established fisheries habitat protection areas in our region as required by federal law. After ten years of research, planning and negotiation, decisions will be made this fall about the future of these areas.

A public comment period will open this fall to inform decisions about whether current MPAs will stay or go, and whether new ones will be established.

So, are MPAs working? Could they be improved? What have we learned by studying the environment and organisms inside and outside our local MPAs? Or MPAs around the world?

Long story short, it is complicated.

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