Encyclopedic Entry

Giant potato cod like this one live in a no-take zone of the Great Barrier Reef conveniently named Cod Hole.

Photograph by Ronnie Bishop, MyShot

A no-take zone is an area set aside by the government where no extractive activity is allowed. Extractive activity is any action that removes, or extracts, any resource. Extractive activities include fishing, hunting, logging, mining, and drilling. Shell collecting and archaeological digging are also extractive.

No-take zones usually make up part of larger protected areas. These protected areas, sometimes part of national or state parks, are located on both land and open water, such as lakes and oceans. No-take zones offer a greater amount of protection to the ecosystems, habitats, and species within the boundaries of those larger, and less restrictive, protected areas.

No-take zones are a specific type of marine protected area (MPA). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), no-take MPAs totally prohibit the extraction or significant destruction of natural or cultural resources.

No-take MPAs are rare. Most countries and states have fisheries that depend on the extraction of marine life. Sport fishing and commercial fishing are often important industries in coastal areas. Throughout the world, the fishing industry is the most powerful opponent of no-take zones. However, archaeologists, treasure hunters, and the oil and mining industries are also often critical of no-take MPAs.

Most no-take zones are often part of multiple-use MPAs, where different levels of activity are allowed in different zones. Multiple-use MPAs regulate the amount of extractive activity, as well as recreation and scientific research, that can take place in a protected area.

No-take zones within multiple-use MPAs usually protect the spawning grounds of many aquatic species. They may also serve as outdoor laboratories that allow scientists to compare the undisturbed areas of a no-take area to those impacted by human activities. Through these experiments, scientists are better able to understand how human activities affect the marine environment.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, California

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a multiple-use MPA located in the Santa Barbara Channel, off the southern coast of the U.S. state of California. The sanctuary encompasses about 3,807 square kilometers (1,470 square miles) of water surrounding Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands. The islands surrounded by the no-take MPAs are not inhabited by people, and only limited scientific research is allowed on them.

In 2007, NOAA added nine new marine zones to the sanctuary, eight of which are no-take marine reserves. These new no-take areas prohibit all extractive activities and injury to sanctuary resources.

The Channel Islands no-take zones protect a great variety of organisms, including large forests of giant kelp, fish, invertebrate populations such as shrimp and clams, and diverse species of marine birds. Marine mammals, such as whales and sea lions, also inhabit the sanctuary. The no-take zones provide full or part-time habitats for endangered species, including blue, humpback, and sei whales, southern sea otters, California brown pelicans, and the California least terns.


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia

Located off the northeast coast of Australia, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park begins at the tip of Cape York in the territory of Queensland and extends south almost to the city of Bundaberg. The park is only slightly smaller than the nation of Japan, and stretches approximately parallel to the Queensland coast for more than 2,240 kilometers (1,400 miles).

In the Great Barrier Reef, no-takes areas are also known as Green Zones. Within Green Zones, recreational activities such as boating, snorkeling, and diving are allowed. However, fishing and coral collecting are entirely prohibited.

Until recently, no-take zones made up less than five percent of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Within the last ten years, the network of no-take areas now covers more than 33 percent of the MPA.

Green Zones improve the protection of the regions biodiversity through a series of strict guidelines. All Green Zones in the MPA are at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide.

The Green Zone network offers at least 20 percent protection per bioregion. A bioregion is a geographic region that is larger than a single ecosystem. Some of the bioregions protected by no-take zones in the Great Barrier Reef include coastal beaches, lagoons, and more than 30 types of coral reefs.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park supports a phenomenal variety of organisms, including many vulnerable or endangered species. Four hundred coral species make up the majority of the reef. Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed, while 215 species of birds regularly visit the reef, with some nesting on nearby islands. The islands also support 2,195 known plant species. More than 1,500 species of fish live on the reef, and thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded within the MPA.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest, most complex, and most diverse ecosystems in the world. It is also one of Australias most profitable tourist centers. Tourists visit the Great Barrier Reef to enjoy the largest coral reef in the world, its colorful and unique habitats, and the array of recreational activities in the area. They also come to participate in sport fishing and other extractive activities.

Australia has large fisheries near the Great Barrier Reef. Marlin, coral trout, bass, snapper, and a wide variety of sharks are harvested near the park. Some of these fish are also harvested in the park itself, in zones that allow for commercial or sport fishing.

The network of no-take zones allows leaders to manage the park to support both the environment and economy of the area.

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

aquatic

Adjective

having to do with water.

archaeological site

Noun

place where evidence of the past is being studied by scientists.

biodiversity

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity

bioregion

Noun

area with specific ecological characteristics, including living and nonliving things. A bioregion is larger than an ecosystem.

breed

Verb

to produce offspring.

coast

Noun

edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

Encyclopedic Entry: coast

commercial fishing

Noun

industry responsible for catching and selling fish.

coral reef

Noun

rocky ocean features made up of millions of coral skeletons.

critical

Adjective

very important.

drill

Verb

to make a hole using a rotating digging tool.

economy

Noun

system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

ecosystem

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem

endangered species

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species

extractive activity

Noun

process that removes, or extracts, any natural or cultural resource from an area.

fine

Verb

to punish, usually by charging an economic penalty or fee.

fishery

Noun

industry or occupation of harvesting fish, either in the wild or through aquaculture.

government

Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

Great Barrier Reef

Noun

large coral reef off the northeast coast of Australia.

Green Zone

Noun

area of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where no extractive activities, such as fishing, are allowed.

habitat

Noun

environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

Encyclopedic Entry: habitat

hunt

Verb

to pursue and kill an animal, usually for food.

inhabit

Verb

to live in a specific place.

invertebrate

Noun

animal without a spine.

kelp

Noun

type of seaweed.

lagoon

Noun

shallow body of water that may have an opening to a larger body of water, but is also protected from it by a sandbar or coral reef.

Encyclopedic Entry: lagoon

logging

Noun

industry engaged in cutting down trees and moving the wood to sawmills.

marine protected area (MPA)

Noun

area of the ocean where a government has placed limits on human activity.

marlin

Noun

large marine fish with a long, spear-like snout, or bill.

mining

Noun

process of extracting ore from the Earth.

multiple-use MPA

Noun

marine protected area that allows different levels of human activity, usually by zones.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Noun

U.S. Department of Commerce agency whose mission is to "understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts; to share that knowledge and information with others, and; to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources."

no-take zone

Noun

area set aside by the government where all extractive activity, including fishing, mining, and drilling, is not allowed.

Encyclopedic Entry: no-take zone

opponent

Noun

rival, or an individual or group who takes the opposite side in a confrontation.

phenomenal

Adjective

very impressive.

poacher

Noun

person who hunts or fishes illegally.

porpoise

Noun

marine mammal related to dolphins.

profitable

Adjective

able to make money.

prohibit

Verb

to disallow or prevent.

rare

Adjective

unusual or uncommon.

recreation area

Noun

specific area that allows camping, boating, fishing, diving, kayaking, picnicking, and other activities.

resource

Noun

available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.

restrict

Verb

to limit.

sanctuary

Noun

protected area where wildlife can live and breed without threat from hunting.

spawning grounds

Noun

area where fish come each year to reproduce.

species

Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

sport fishing

Noun

catching fish for competition or recreation.

tern

Noun

aquatic bird related to gulls.

territory

Noun

land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

treasure-hunting

Noun

process and hobby of searching and digging for valuable items in historical places such as shipwrecks.

unique

Adjective

one of a kind.

vulnerable

Adjective

capable of being hurt.

Credits

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writers

Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel
Diane Boudreau
Tara Ramroop
Santani Teng
Erin Sprout
Hilary Costa
Hilary Hall
Jeff Hunt

Illustrators

Tim Gunther
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society

Editors

Kara West
Jeannie Evers

Educator Reviewer

Nancy Wynne

Producer

Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Sources

Dunn, Margery G. (Editor). (1989, 1993). "Exploring Your World: The Adventure of Geography." Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

User Permissions

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.

If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact natgeocreative@ngs.org for more information and to obtain a license.

If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.

Media

Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner (download) of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.