The Flaws and Functions of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act



The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) was established in 1972 for the general purpose of regulating ocean dumping in our oceans. The act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, also worked to designate marine sanctuaries in our marine coasts and oceans for the purpose of preservation and restoration for overall conservation. MPRSA works differently from other acts around the country, specifically in how it’s administered. Unlike most other land-specific acts, MPRSA is decentralized and dependent on the application of dozens of different federal laws by a number of separate agencies. In other words, the MPAs of the act (or the Marine Protection Agencies) don’t fall under one specific agency; but instead under several. This, on top of federal power over the oceans being spread out over a variety of administrative agencies, makes it so MPRSA’s regulations over oceans is unorganized and downright complicated.

Despite providing transparent rules and regulations of how the act would take into affect, some sources argue that the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act itself is flawed in its lack of concrete focus on preservation. The act itself fails to establish specifications on what constitutes a sanctuary system (though this is much to the fault of Congress). Other sources also argue that there are loopholes found in the act that allow industries, primarily oil and commercial fishing, to get around it and continue to dump into our oceans. MPRSA has good intentions, but it’s lack of structure and industrial accountability prevents it from being as effective as it could be. Establishing thorough protocols to ensure that no misinterpretations can be made would benefit the act in allowing it to reach its fullest potential. 

Within my research, I hope to not only learn the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act’s history, but also the reasoning behind the lack of concrete structure in its rule and regulations, and what’s currently being done about it today to protect our marine ocean life.