Legal Tools for MPA Enforcement

In cooperation with National Geographic – Pristine Seas, we are aiming to identify approaches that nations can take to develop or enhance their legal frameworks to provide the authority necessary for effective MPA enforcement and compliance. Our project addresses both enforcement of and compliance by vessels flagged to the nation as well as distant water fishing fleets. It also addresses the circumstances affecting enforcement of large and small MPAs.

The first action of the MPA Enforcement project has been the creation of the report titled: Legal Tools for Strengthening Marine Protected Area Enforcement. This Handbook is a new resource for countries seeking to improve enforcement of their existing MPAs or to write legal instruments for the creation of new MPAs with an eye on compliance and enforcement. The handbook presents a variety of legal tools to improve MPA enforcement and compliance, together with sample legal provisions that countries may use to implement these reforms through national legislation, international agreements, or other instruments.

This Handbook is intended to serve as a resource for anyone seeking to ensure that:

  1. the legal requirements of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) are enforced as effectively as possible; and

  2. that new MPA laws are drafted to support compliance and enforcement, with monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) firmly in mind.

The Handbook should be particularly useful for legislators and government policymakers in developing countries that are pursuing more effective enforcement of large-scale MPA designations. It chiefly considers enforcement of MPA requirements that control or prohibit fishing activities within a substantial portion of a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It also may be a helpful tool for nonprofit organizations and citizens advocating for improved enforcement of existing MPA requirements.