Conserving Biological Diversity through Marine Protected Areas: A Global Challenge

By Sobel, Jack | Oceanus, Fall 1993 | Go to article overview

Conserving Biological Diversity through Marine Protected Areas: A Global Challenge


Sobel, Jack, Oceanus


Scientists believe that off the coasts of the United States, from the frigid ice-scoured waters of the Arctic Ocean to the tropical reefs of the Florida Keys, the West Indies, and the Pacific Islands, there are more kinds of marine plants and animals in more kinds of marine habitats than are found off any other in the world.

A Nation of Oceans, descriptive document on the US National Marine Sanctuary Program, 1986

Custody of the world's most biologically diverse marine waters bears with it a special responsibility to protect them. The National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP), the only federal program specifically designed to provide comprehensive protection of the nation's extraordinary US marine ecosystems, has excellent potential for conserving their tremendous biological diversity. Since its creation in 1972, the sanctuary program has achieved considerable success, despite extremely limited resources and variable levels of administration support.

The recent addition of several new and larger sanctuaries brings important challenges and opportunities. In particular, large, new sanctuaries surrounding the Florida Keys and off the Central California coast provide the opportunity to develop truly state-of-the-art protected areas using an integrated coastal management approach. Some progress has already been made, but more is needed. If the Clinton administration recognizes and seizes this opportunity, the US can establish itself as the international marine protected area leader that our outstanding resources merit.

For too long, marine protected areas and marine conservation in general have been neglected relative to their terrestrial counterparts. This is surprising to marine scientists and others who know and love the oceans. After all, oceans cover 71 percent of Earth's surface. Moreover, considering that organisms occupy three dimensions rather than two, the oceans provide over 99 percent of Earth's living space.

Fortunately, there is a growing international appreciation of the oceans' importance. A comprehensive strategy to protect global biodiversity must focus considerable attention on marine areas or, more precisely, marine volumes. The world community is slowly waking up to the importance of conserving marine biological diversity and the key contribution marine protected areas can make to this effort. This sea change in attitude is reflected in outcomes from the decadal World Parks Congress and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held last year in Caracas and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. It is also apparent in the development of the international Global Marine Biological Diversity Strategy by several organizations interested in conservation.

Marine Biodiversity is Threatened

Simply defined, biological diversity is the diversity of life, but there are more complex definitions that recognize different levels of diversity. For instance, one definition encompasses species diversity (variety among species), genetic diversity (variety among genes within species), and ecosystem diversity (variety among specific environments and the biological communities they contain). But even this is not the whole story.

Additional definitions of biological diversity are useful for certain purposes. One of these, the diversity of higher taxonomic groups, which recognizes that all species are not created equal, is useful for comparing terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Taxonomy, the science that classifies organisms into groups (taxa) based on their interrelationships, uses a hierarchical classification system. The basic unit of taxonomy is the species. Terrestrial species diversity may be greater than marine species diversity (though there is still much to learn about marine species), but marine diversity is greater at higher taxonomic levels.

The diversity of life in the seas is spectacular, invaluable to mankind, and likely essential to the maintenance of life on Earth.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conserving Biological Diversity through Marine Protected Areas: A Global Challenge
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.