The 3 Screen Doors

Stephen C Jameson sjameson at
Fri Mar 8 11:57:14 EST 2002

Dear Coral-Listers,

I was right in the middle of writing a letter to the Editor of MPA News
responding to their recent discussion on the "definition" of an MPA when
Mark's insightful comment appeared (below)

Mark Tupper wrote today:
>Before I ramble any further, I'll try to sum this up succinctly. Most MPAs
>are basically "paper parks" that do not meet their resource management
>goals. This fact has little to do with the ecological effects of protective
>management on fish production, but is based mainly on institutional and
>community capacity to properly manage MPAs. Thus, the proper question is
>"are MPAs effective", but "can MPAs be effectively managed for a given
>community or fishery". I would submit that the answer to that question is
>likely to be location and/or fishery-dependent.

I'll also be brief:

As the first NOAA manager of the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary
(back in the late 1970's) and subsequent manager of two other US National
Marine Sanctuaries (MONITOR and Channel Islands) and a University of Guam
Marine Lab alumnus (Hafa Day Mark) - I have often asked myself "can MPA's
be effectively managed".

Unless we have control over pollutants coming in from the land, air and
via external currents, we are trying to manage the proverbial "submarine
with 3 screen doors".

We might have success on the land side, but the air and current sides are
usually international, as well as large-scale national problems, and not
easily mitigated.

Being now in the private sector, I would take a more "business plan
approach" towards establishing a new MPA - or in pouring more money into
an existing one that has a poor track record of success (i.e., I'd take a
very hard look at the feasibility of succeeding over the long run
considering the 3 screen doors).

PS.  The gist of my MPA News "letter to the editor" is:

 "If MPA's aren't really "protected" (from the 3 screen doors) then we
shouldn't be calling them "marine protected areas" or "fully-protected
areas" or any other form of "protected" area.

If the term  "MPA" or any of it's derivations is continued to be used, it
should be something that is earned or certified. In this day and age with
all the built-in stresses imposed on coral reefs, an area is not
"magically or instantaneously  protected" via an MPA designation process
- protection must be fought for - and it may never be attained.

Best regards,

Dr. Stephen C. Jameson, President
Coral Seas Inc. - Integrated Coastal Zone Management
4254 Hungry Run Road, The Plains, VA  20198-1715  USA
Office:  703-754-8690, Fax:  703-754-9139
Email:  sjameson at
Web Site:

For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please visit, click on Popular on the
menu bar, then click on Coral-List Listserver.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list