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In 1872, the headwaters of the Yellowstone River and the surrounding forests, canyons and geyser basins were designated the world's first national park.

Since then, most nations of the world, whatever their size, have protected important biological, scenic, geological and historic places. That decision to make Yellowstone a national park set in motion a series of events with unforeseen but fortunate implications: Today, 12% of the Earth's terrestrial landscapes are under some sort of protection (Roberts, 2007).

Our relationship to the sea, however, has followed a profoundly different course. Although over two-thirds of the planet's surface is water, little of the marine environment has been protected. As recently as 2008, less than one-tenth of one percent of the world's oceans was safe from exploitation (Wood et al., 2008). Moreover, for many of the areas protected, effective management and
enforcement has been weak or nonexistent.

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Read the full editorial: The Case for Establishing Ecosystem-Scale Marine Reserves (PDF).