• Ocean Wilderness In Theory And Practice

      Barr, Bradley W.; Kruse, Gordon; Kliskey, Andrew; Alessa, Lilian; Koester, David (2012)
      Wilderness preservation has been an important focus of resource conservation since the dwindling number of wild places was perceived by some as losing a valued part of our collective natural and cultural heritage. While wilderness preservation efforts have been almost entirely focused on the land, recently there has been growing interest in "ocean wilderness." However, implementation has been constrained by the lack of a common vision of how "wilderness" is applied to the ocean, and how such areas should be managed and preserved. The purpose of this work was to identify and evaluate potential definitions of ocean wilderness and the values and qualities such areas possess, and to determine how they might be effectively identified and managed to preserve their wilderness character. This research focused on articulating a robust definition for "wilderness waters," within the context of how wilderness is currently conceived and articulated in law and policy, as well as evaluating how such areas might be most appropriately identified and managed. Extensive inventories were conducted of existing ocean wilderness areas, focused on North America, to determine what currently exists, how these areas are managed, and how future ocean wilderness designations should be prioritized. A survey was conducted, targeting resource managers and scientists, to identify preferences and perceptions of ocean wilderness and its potential stewardship. The survey results suggested that coastal waters possessed considerable values and qualities of wilderness, particularly areas adjacent to existing designated wilderness, that certain human uses might be appropriately permitted, and that there was much support for expanding the area of coastal waters designated as wilderness. The research also suggested that the North American Arctic might offer many opportunities for preserving ocean wilderness, in close collaboration with the Indigenous communities in this region. A number of recommendations were offered including that priority should be given to evaluating and designating areas adjacent to designated coastal wilderness areas, that the existing legal and policy framework in North America can be effectively used to expand the "wilderness waters" system, and that more work needs to be done to build the constituencies of support essential to accomplish this task.