Question: What are the controversies surrounding MCAs?
Answer: Marine Conservation Agreements can be controversial and be met with public and private resistance because of preconceived notions regarding the ownership, management and use of the marine environment—all of which can almost always be addressed.
As with anything new, there are bound to be concerns raised about Marine Conservation Agreements (MCAs). However, agreements involving the marine environment are not new—they have been used for hundreds of years. While the majority of historical agreements have been used for residential and commercial purposes, there are examples of agreements being used for private conservation purposes as well. The issue is not that MCAs are new, the issue is that MCAs are not widely understood or applied. As a result, much of the work needed to undertake MCA projects may be educational in nature, which is necessary to overcome historical practices and widely-held misperceptions. In some cases, public agencies and private entities may even be adverse to the concept of MCAs. This adversarial response should be expected and met with patience and determination.
Much of the information found within this toolkit is meant to help conservation practitioners address predictable concerns, controversy, and resistance. Many of the common issues encountered include the following:
- Aquaculture areas or leases can only be used for commercial and recreational harvest (see response)
- Conservation organizations should not undertake what governments should already be doing on public lands (see responses here and here)
- Conservation organizations will keep businesses from developing and using important economic sites (see response)
- Private use of public lands for conservation purposes has never been done before (see response)
- Private use of public lands for conservation purposes is against law and policy (responses for specific areas can be accessed through the Country Analyses)
- Private use of public lands for conservation purposes will restrict the future use of the site (see response)
- Use of public lands must be done for an active use (see response)
- Private use of public lands for conservation purposes cannot infringe on tribal treaty rights (see response)
- Private use of public lands for conservation purposes will restrict public recreational access and use of the shore and waters (see response)
- Private ownership of marine areas is not possible (see response)
- Governments simply don't lease public lands for conservation purposes (see response)