Showing all articles published in December 2010.
A new peer-reviewed study from PLoS One shows what conservationists and fishermen have known all along: protected areas in the ocean allow fish to grow, multiply, and spill out into nearby open areas where they can be caught by anglers (that’s why you see so many boats “fishing the line” near marine reserves). It also shows, for the first time, that these sea sanctuaries seed nearby waters with baby fish, helping to boost fishery health in the surrounding area.
This is great news for California, since the state’s Fish and Game Commision just approved a new network of marine protected areas that will extend from Santa Barbara to the border with Mexico, protecting southern California’s most iconic ocean areas and rebuilding depleted fisheries in the region.
In a landmark decision, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 yesterday to adopt a network of marine protected areas that will stretch from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. These protected areas will join others that dot the coast from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, forming part of the statewide system of underwater parks called for in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).
The Commission voted in favor of a compromise plan that combined ideas from fishermen, divers, conservationists and scientists. The plan was designed to balance environmental and economic considerations. Peer-reviewed studies show that well-designed marine reserves boost fisheries yield and profits. They also improve coastal tourism and
recreation opportunities, which are big business in southern California,
accounting for 80 cents out of every dollar spent by visitors.
Yesterday’s conservation milestone was heralded in media all over the state:
California has led the nation in establishing marine reserves, an idea conceived in response to steep population declines of rockfish, cod, lobster, abalone and other ocean dwellers despite catch limits and other fishing regulations. Scientists who helped draft the plan argued that some species could disappear entirely without fishing bans in a diverse assortment of underwater canyons, kelp forests, sandy seafloors and rocky reefs.
Commissioner Richard B. Rogers voted in favor of the plan, saying it struck an "elegant balance" between conservation and fishing interests. "The overarching goal is to return California to the sustainable abundance
I observed growing up," the lifelong scuba diver said.
Commissioner Michael Sutton, founding director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, called the protections "good news for everyone who cares about the future of our fisheries and the future of our marine ecosystems."
-- Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2010
The MLPA planning effort has sparked an incredible outpouring of public support from elected officials, local businesses, community organizations and scientists. Tens of thousands of southern Californians attended meetings, made public comments or signed petitions supporting improved ocean protection.
-- Dana Point Times, December 16, 2010
“It’s like a savings account for our ocean. Set a little aside so it can recuperate and thrive and we will all ... benefit from the interest.”
-- San Diego Union Tribune, December 15, 2010
Marcela Gutierrez with Wildcoast says a variety of groups and the public have been working for two years on plans to create the underwater parks. "This is a trailblazing effort. It's one of the first of its kind in the world. The whole conservation community is watching, and it's great for our coastal oceans going forward." Gutierrez says the MPAs ultimately will become fish nurseries that will benefit fishermen.
-- Public News Service, December 15, 2010
For more information visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.
It's a historic day for southern California: after two years, and 50 public meetings, the ocean protection plans developed by local stakeholders are up for a vote before the Fish and Game Commission.
The Marine Life Protection Act calls for a new kind of conservation, grounded in science, and focused on whole ecosystems. Marine protected areas are a proven tool that allows sea life and habitats to thrive safe from disturbance, boosting the health and productivity of the ocean. By setting aside a few small areas where fish and shellfish feed and breed, California can enjoy more bountiful and sustainable harvests, and more resilient and diverse marine systems.
Our nation has been protecting treasured landscapes for over a century, and it's high time we extended that conservation ethic offshore, creating a system of underwater parks. The compromise plan before the Commission would protect popular areas like south La Jolla, Catalina Island, and Point Dume while leaving nearly 90% of the coast open for fishing.
Hundreds of divers, surfers, business people, elected officials, and kayakers are expected to speak up for ocean protection at today's meeting in Santa Barbara. Let's hope the Commission recognizes the wisdom of investing in a strong marine protected area network before it's too late. Like ecological savings accounts, our state's new marine protected areas will pay dividends for years to come, in the form of more and bigger fish, and a healthier ocean for all.
More than 100 divers, surfers, fishermen, scientists, business people, and elected officials testified at today's Fish and Game Commission meeting on the Marine Life Protection Act. A few of their comments follow:
“We are on the side of fishermen. Marine protected areas protect their business," said lifelong ocean activist Jean-Michel
“I was part of the research group that conducted the five year review of the Channel Islands marine reserves established in 2003. We found increased size, numbers, and overall biomass inside the protected areas, and those trends have continued. Now, we are starting to see patterns of density that show spillover into open areas,” said Dr. Jenn Caselle of UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute.
“Please create a blue belt to compliment our city's green belt," said Tony Soto, speaking for Laguna Beach Mayor Iseman.
"Now is the time to act and provide this much needed protection for our ocean ecosystems,” said Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
“Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is one of the many groups that stands ready to help the Department of Fish and Game with education, outreach, and monitoring,” said Kira Redmond, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.
“I believe the Marine Life Protection Act is our best chance to preserve the beauty, majesty, and productivity of California’s iconic ocean places,” said Karen Garrison of Natural Resources Defense Council.
“As a realtor, I know people move to Santa Barbara because of our spectacular coast and ocean. I support marine protected areas because they
are good for my business and our economy,” said Prudential California realtor Kalia Rork.
Check out Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard's opinion piece in the Santa Barbara Independent reflecting on the need for marine protected areas in Southern California.
In his opinion editorial entitled "Setting a Gold Standard for Ocean Health Care," Chouinard talks about the business and cultural value of ocean protection:
...This philosophy of responsible enterprise has taught me my most important lesson as a businessman: Doing the right thing for the environment makes for good, financially sound business. At Patagonia we’ve found that every time we’ve elected to do the right thing, even when it costs twice as much, it’s turned out to be more profitable in the long run. It has allowed us to contribute to conservation organizations working on behalf of the world’s natural areas and wildlife, including the marine life in California’s coastal waters through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).
The ocean and the sea life it sustains are a part of our natural heritage and should be managed in trust for future generations, yet less than one percent of the ocean is protected. Each year the fish get smaller and less numerous. This is a disturbing trend we are seeing in oceans worldwide...
...The MLPA is a forward-looking law that calls for a network of MPAs along the length of the California coastline. That network has already been mapped out for the central part of the state, and the California Fish and Game Commission will make a final decision on protected areas for southern California during their meeting in Santa Barbara on December 15. Public comments will be accepted, so if you care about the future of the southern California coast, please attend and make your voice heard.
The MLPA takes us a step towards making the 21st century the Century of the Environment, as Edward O. Wilson calls for in his 2002 book, The Future of Life...
And let’s not forget the short-term payoffs: California’s coastal economies depend on a healthy ocean. According to the National Ocean Economics Program, southern California’s coastal economy employs more than 7 million people and contributes nearly $900 billion to the overall state economy. The vast majority of coastal visitors come for reasons other than fishing: they come to dive, walk the beach, surf and watch wildlife.
As legendary environmentalist David Brower once said, “There’s no business to be done on a dead planet.” Perhaps that’s a bit grim, but it reminds us that we need to overcome the sensibility that business and environmental stewardship are mutually exclusive. We can use business to inspire and implement solutions to our environmental challenges.
In other words, start close to home and see where it leads. A network of MPAs along California’s coastline will bring major ecologic and economic benefits to the state, and set a gold standard for ocean protection we can hope to replicate around the world.
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