Ocean Wilderness in Theory and Practice

Bradley W. Barr, Ph.D.

University of Alaska

Friday, Sep. 20, 2013, 3:00pm
Chase 130

The idea of wilderness has received considerable attention by the science and management communities, but largely as it is applied to preserving places on the land. Few have considered the potential for wilderness in ocean and coastal waters, but there is growing interest expanding this largely land-based concept into the sea. How we collectively perceive these potential areas of "ocean wilderness," how we define the term, and how we might apply that definition in development of policy and management for these areas represent significant, but not insurmountable, challenges. A dedicated research program has been conducted to begin to address some of these challenges, and the results of that research offer some important insights into what we perceive ocean wilderness to be, what human activities may be compatible, and incompatible, with preserving the wilderness values and qualities in these areas, and how the currently designated wilderness waters can be more effectively preserved and managed. The findings of this research help to inform, and potentially influence, what the future of ocean wilderness might be as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the US Wilderness Act in 2014.


Brad Barr received a BS from the University of Maine, a MS from the University of Massachusetts, and a PhD at the University of Alaska. He is currently a Senior Policy Advisor in the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and a Visiting Professor at the University Center of the Westfjords in Iceland. He is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas/IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, and has served on the Boards of Directors of the George Wright Society in the US, the Science and Management of Protected Areas Association (SAMPAA) in Canada, and the Coastal Zone Canada Association (CZCA). He has published extensively on marine protected areas science and management, whaling and maritime heritage preservation, with a primary research focus on the identification and management of ocean wilderness.