Whereas the Environment Council of Rhode Island is on record as supporting protection and conservation of marine resources and the vitality of Rhode Island's commercial and recreational marine fisheries; and
Whereas there is a growing consensus in the scientific and fisheries management communities that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) represent a valuable management tool, in conjunction with other management approaches, for protecting critical nursery and grow-out habitat for marine organisms, including marine fish stocks; and
Whereas MPAs are geographically defined as areas where human activities are limited temporarily or permanently to help protect defined resources or resource uses; and
Whereas MPAs may include marine reserves or "no take" zones where the removal or disturbance of some or all living resources is completely prohibited in order protect biodiversity and provide undisturbed areas for research, fishery reserves to restore and protect fish stocks, and habitat restoration areas to facilitate recovery of damaged seabeds; and
Whereas MPAs may also include marine parks, management areas or "blueways" to protect key migratory routes or haul-out areas where commercial and/or recreational access is permitted to the extent these uses are consistent with the underlying goals of the MPA; and
Whereas the size and location of the MPAs should be determined based on the conservation needs of Rhode Island and neighboring coastal states based on information provided by the RIDEM and other research, management and conservation organizations in collaboration with stakeholders, including environmental advocacy groups; and
Whereas the timing is appropriate to begin a legislatively-mandated process of identifying the benefits of establishing MPAs in Rhode Island waters since The Joint Advisory Working Group on Fisheries (JWG) is submitting legislation regarding fisheries management in the 2002 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly in accordance with the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Management Modernization Act of 2001;
Now therefore be it resolved that the Environment Council of Rhode Island: encourages the General Assembly, the Governor's office, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and other federal and state agencies concerned with fisheries management and protection of coastal habitat and marine biodiversity in Rhode Island waters, to pursue the establishment of Marine Protected Areas as one tool to help protect and conserve the marine environment, marine resources and the vitality of Rhode Island's commercial and recreational marine fisheries; and
Further be it resolved that the Environment Council of Rhode Island: calls upon said groups to include all interested stakeholders in the process of identifying MPAs in Rhode Island waters, including representatives of interested user groups and the environmental advocacy community.
National Academy of Sciences. (2001). Marine Protected Areas: Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystem. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. (This report was sponsored by the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.)
See also President Clinton's Executive Order of May 2000 encouraging the development of MPAs.