Marine Protected Areas

Despite political commitments, a somewhat strengthened legal basis and strong support of environmental NGO's, progress on the implementation of MPAs in Europe, both at the EU and Member State level remains slow. While the debate on MPAs in other parts of the world (including the US) has generally moved away from the 'strict closure' approach to the multi-user approach, discussion in the EU remains stalled by certain stakeholders on no-take zones. The European fishing industry is particularly concerned about the socio-economic implications of closed fishing grounds and has resisted the establishment of MPAs.

Europe has much to learn from the US experience of implementing MPAs. Initially, the US faced similar challenges as Europe in gaining stakeholder and political support for MPAs. However, the US has managed to overcome this domestic opposition and now uses MPAs as an important tool for managing fisheries and other resources. The transatlantic exchange of experiences in translating MPAs from concept to reality and the lessons learned through their implementation will be invaluable in moving the European debate forward.