No-take areas are not one-size-fits-all solution

Dear MPA News:
The Pew Fellows report discussed in the June issue (MPA News 6:11) is troubling. To say that 10-50% of all marine ecosystems should become no-take zones ignores reality. In each part of the sea where protection is necessary, there are areas where no-take is justified within MPA boundaries, and areas where other types of management are more appropriate.

In a scientific manner, certain key areas of MPAs should be identified and given full protection because of their vital functions, while the remaining portions should be managed in other ways for particular purposes. Most MPAs will include a variety of ecosystems, each needing to be managed optimally depending upon specific conditions. This requires knowledge of each of the underwater habitats and their optimal functioning, as well as the particular threats facing them. A multi-objective management scheme should be established within each MPA to properly manage its various parts.

To close up to 50% of all marine ecosystems because one does not know how else to manage them says that research, knowledge of the system, and commitment to appropriate, scientifically based, multi-objective management is to be scrapped in favor of a an easy-fix, one-size-fits-all, draconian approach.

John R. Clark
281 West Indies Drive, Ramrod Key, FL 33042, USA. Tel: +1 305 872 4114; E-mail:

Editor’s note: Clark is co-author, with Rodney Salm and Erkki Siirila, of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Guide for Planners and Managers, now in its third edition (IUCN 2000).