Today, the Marine Conservation Institute
and Mission Blue
issued the first-ever scientifically rigorous national ranking of coastal states' efforts to protect their beaches, coastal waters and marine life.
SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? shows that the vast majority of US states and territories are failing to safeguard our nation's waters. Through an analysis of marine reserves that prohibit the catching of marine life, the best tool available to help oceans thrive, we ranked all 28 coastal states and territories. Dozens of studies show that no-take marine reserves provide important protection not offered by weaker marine protected areas (MPAs), and often provide an overflow of marine life to waters outside their boundaries, helping maintain fish populations that are important to commerce, us and future generations.
"Whether you love our oceans for their beauty, for their fishes and marine mammals, or for generating half of the oxygen we breathe, you should want them to be strongly protected. But most states in this report get a score of zero and only a handful are protecting even 1%. That's not good enough when our oceans are facing grave threats like overfishing and pollution. America's oceans and people deserve better," said eminent marine biologist, President of Mission Blue and Marine Conservation Institute Board Member, Dr. Sylvia Earle. "The United States has a long way to go if we want to be a world-leader in marine conservation."
Hawaii, California and the US Virgin Islands lead the pack, protecting over 5% of their waters. Six other states offer minimal protection (FL, OR, WA, NC, VA and ME), while 15 states protect nothing. These results are sobering. Like most Americans, I had assumed that our states are doing a good job at protecting our waters, but barely 1% of state waters are designated as no-take areas where marine life is safe. We can do a lot better.
Please support our work at the Maine Conservation Institute to not only bring important issues like this to light, but to also continue advocating for strong, science-based conservation solutions like marine protected areas.
You can download the entire report and review how your state is doing by visiting SeaStates.us.