Showing all articles with tag: mpa.
The first month of the year is perhaps the best time to experience California’s ocean at its finest – which is why the 5th Annual Underwater Parks Day on Saturday, January 19th is a great reason to hit the coast and enjoy a marine protected area. To find an event near you, see the full schedule of events by region linked below.
It’s already been a busy month for California’s new network of over 100 underwater parks, which was completed just last December. Grey whales are traveling south along the coast to lagoons in Baja, California where they will give birth to calves. Some preemies and their mothers are already showing up off the coast of Los Angeles and San Diego, delighting whale watchers.
Further north, in Piedras Blancas and Año Nuevo State Park's marine protected areas, male elephant seals are engaging in their spectacular, violent mating rituals, while females are giving birth to a new generation of pups. Friends of the Elephant Seal and Ano Nuevo State Park docents offer guided tours of the action to visitors, who should use extreme caution and approach seals only with the assistance of a guide.
Stewards of the states’ underwater parks have planned activities and celebrations throughout the California coast at state beaches, aquaria, and nature centers, which are perfect for kids and adults to enjoy a day surrounded by sea life and learn more about the benefits of protecting California’s prime ocean habitats.
An exciting new study of pink abalone in Isla Natividad, Mexico sheds light on the ability of marine reserves to make the ocean more resilient to disasters.
Scientists from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station teamed up with the Mexican NGO Comunidad y Biodiversidad to study a patch of ocean that was hard hit by two large die-offs when hypoxic events created periods of low dissolved oxygen in the water.
They compared fished areas to nearby marine reserves, with startling results:
“The study revealed that after a mass mortality of marine life in the waters off Baja California, Mexico, egg production of pink abalones in the marine reserves increased 40 percent while being cut in half in fished areas…a significant amount of larvae spilled over into unprotected areas open to fishing, which helped them rebound more quickly.”
So, not only did the marine reserve help the recovery of abalone inside the reserve, it helped abalone outside the reserve as well. Marine reserves provide a refuge for species to grow larger, and more abundant. This proved crucial to the ability of the abalone population to recover from the die-off:
“Both the large size of the protected abalones and the population density were key to resilience,” noted (Stanford Professor Fiorenza) Micheli. “Marine reserves are vital to jumpstart the recovery of species following a mass mortality.”
While scientists have recommended marine reserves to communities looking to protect future reserves of fish, their ability to help ecosystems recover from disasters has been less well understood – which makes this study truly groundbreaking.
California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) are leading the way with the country’s first state-wide network of underwater parks. Along with significant environmental and economic benefits, the MPAs bring intangibles—like good, old-fashioned, underwater fun!
Ocean Conservancy spotlighted its Top Ten dive sites within the network—where to go and what creatures to look for amongst the flourishing kelp forests, coralline-encrusted boulders, and rocky ledges.
Thanks to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), some of the best areas for diving and snorkeling in the world can be found in these areas, which will thrive and replenish fish and other wildlife thanks to the unprecedented protection. Check out the giant sea bass in the Italian Gardens of Catalina Island, the bat rays at Landing Cove off of Anacapa, gorgonian sea fans at Laguna Beach, or leopard sharks at La Jolla Cove. Visit scubadiving.com for more information.
We’ve written before about the effort to establish the North Coast marine protected area network that ranges from Mendocino County north to the Oregon border. Yesterday the Press Democrat sized up the importance of this historic achievement. The positive article looks at how consensus was reached by diverse stakeholders.
And it includes comments from Bodega Bay charter boat captain Rick Powers on what it's been like to fish under the already-established North Central Coast Marine Protected Areas. The article states:
Compliance appeared to be ‘excellent’ with the 21 protected areas on the coastal stretch that includes Sonoma County. ”It hasn't hampered our efforts,” Powers said, “and although I can't speak for them, most of the commercial fishermen would probably agree.”
In other news, a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the region has been completed. A 45-day public comment period on the DEIR will feature hearings in Fort Bragg, Crescent City and Eureka. Check out the link above for more information on how to obtain copies of the report.
These coastal hotspots provide a window into the underwater world. From sea stars to anemones and fish to colorful nudibranchs, sharp-eyed visitors can see myriad plants and animals, often guided by volunteer docents.
Many of California's best tidepooling sites are marine protected areas, or underwater parks, which have been set aside to allow wildlife to thrive and people to enjoy nature. These marine protected areas are often located alongside state and county beaches, connecting land and sea, and offering great opportunities for bird and mammal watching, hiking, kayaking, and other activities.
To make sure the tidepools remain healthy and vibrant for future visitors, its important to practice good etiquette. This guide from Orange County Marine Protected Area Council has rules for being a good tidepooler, and this page from the California Department of Fish and Game includes great resources for teachers planning school field trips.
This month, we are thankful for the great strides being made in marine protected area creation, research, and education in California. Read on for the latest news:
Court upholds northern California marine protected areas
The big (and really good!) news this month was a Superior Court decision that upheld California’s authority to create underwater parks along northern California’s coast under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This ruling is a win for the economy, environment and the millions of visitors who flock to our shores every year. It’s also good news for the South Coast, where a series of marine protected areas are slated to go into effect on January 1. California worked hard to include divers, surfers, fishermen, business leaders and other groups in the planning process, and the court’s ruling validates the state’s community-driven approach.
Getting the word out in Southern California
With the eagerly awaited opening day for southern California’s new underwater parks just weeks away, Surfrider and Reef Check are teaming up on a series of public forums designed to raise awareness about the protected areas, and answer any questions people might have. They are hosting events in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. To find one near you, check out this flyer.
A different kind of lobster hunt
Monitoring the plants and animals that live in and around California’s new underwater parks will provide a detailed picture of the current state of our ocean so we can track changes over time and make even better decisions going forward. Gathering this information requires an all-hands on deck effort, which is why innovative partnerships such as the one taking place between lobster fishermen, state wildlife regulators and scientists in San Diego are so important. This collaborative study will establish a baseline for California spiny lobster populations. And scientists need your help! Anyone who catches a tagged lobster is encouraged to document the catch at taggedlobster.com.
“Thank You Ocean” says “thank you MPAs”
California’s Thank You Ocean Campaign, a nonprofit partnership supported by the State of California, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Ocean Communicators Alliance, has unveiled a new page dedicated to MPAs (click here for the Spanish version). In addition to lots of great info on the MLPA and the iconic waters being protected, you can find a series of podcasts, including this recent story that explains that importance of adaptive management.
“Much work remains to build long-term trust between California and the many tribes of this state. But an important page has been turned.” – Hawk Rosales, InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council
In all the years of planning, meetings and compromises that have gone into making the Marine Life Protection Act a success, the stakeholder partnership taking place in the North Coast has to be the most impressive. They did, after all, come up with the only unanimous proposal for network of Marine Protected Areas for the region (the North Coast network is expected to be finalized next year).
But there was a hitch in the plan. Traditional tribal harvest wasn’t accounted for in the MLPA, and the new protections for the North Coast overlapped with the tribes’ historic harvesting sites. In an op-ed in today’s Sacramento Bee, Hawk Rosales of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council describes the positive, constructive steps the tribes and the state have made in reaching agreement on a plan that preserves tribal rights while safeguarding California’s iconic coastal waters.
Despite historic injustices perpetrated by the state against native peoples, Rosales says “recent events offer hope that, at last, a new era is beginning.”
From the piece:
For the tribes, protection of the ocean and traditional cultural use of marine resources are inseparable ideas. Without careful stewardship, the ocean's gifts will steadily decline and may someday vanish. North Coast residents, including fishermen, harbor districts and conservation groups, stood in solidarity with the tribes.
Rosales praises state officials, including Resources Secretary John Laird and members and staff of the MLPA Initiative, for carefully considering tribal concerns. This story is a testament to the public, inclusive nature of the MLPA: coming together to make ocean management decisions that protect marine life while being respectful of the needs of all ocean users.
Supporters of smart ocean conservation have long known that marine reserves and protected areas deliver a multitude of benefits – ecologically and economically. Yet opponents of the Marine Life Protection Act continue to portray the issue as Us versus Them, where those in the fishing industry stand to either win or lose based on the level of protections put into place. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: simply not true.
Case in point: the marine reserves around overfished coral reefs in Kenya, where Dr. Tim McClanahan, a marine biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, has been tracking the increasing number of fish local fishermen are catching along the border of the reserve. Contrary to expectations, the incomes of the nearby fishermen doubled within a year of the introduction of these reserves. Previously vocal opponents of marine reserves, the fishermen have become vocal supporters of additional reserves.
You can read and hear about it here.
We’ve seen similar success at other reserves around the world, including close to home at the Channel Islands. We at CalOceans love to hear – and share – these success stories, which encourage us to continue in our efforts to secure California’s long-term health through the MLPA.
The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture met today in Sacramento to review the ocean protection plan approved in December for California’s south coast as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) implementation process. The Joint Committee heard presentations from MLPA Initiative and Department of Fish and Game staff as well as public testimony.
Agency staff, elected officials and stakeholders testified about the inclusiveness of MLPA planning efforts. The Department received 18,000 emails during the south coast process, which included more than 50 public meetings with 150 hours of public comments.
Senator Pavley spoke about the strong science behind the Marine Life Protection Act, “I am impressed by the science available to back up the MLPA…Looking at the monitoring results from the Channel Islands, and based on scientific studies from around the world, we know that marine protected areas work.”
Senator Kehoe spoke about the proven benefits of marine protected areas as well, “Marine protected areas are essential to protecting species and habitats in our ocean wilderness, and restoring a thriving marine ecosystem that will benefit our oceans and fishermen.”
Lieutenant Governor Newsom sent a letter to the Joint Committee that offered support for the south coast plan, which he called a “balanced marine protected area network that protects the region’s most iconic ocean areas while leaving nearly 90 percent of state waters open for fishing.”
Newsom’s letter cited the economic importance of ocean protection for the state, since “Southern California’s coastal economy employs more than seven million people and contributes nearly $900 billion to the overall state economy,” and urged the Joint Committee’s “continued support for the Marine Life Protection Act.”
Assemblymember Chesbro, who chairs the Joint Committee, explained that the Committee does not have authority to make changes to the plan, and emphasized the importance of ongoing public participation as California works to complete the statewide marine protected area network called for under the MLPA. He said, “It is critical that we have ocean users as partners in conservation.”
California’s Marine Life Protection Act is well-known for its visionary leadership on ocean conservation. Last week the State advanced this leadership – taking action to incorporate respect for tribal traditional ocean uses as part of its ocean conservation efforts. Everyone, state officials and stakeholders alike, has expressed an interest in ensuring that traditional tribal uses of California’s marine resources—and the tribes’ stewardship practices--are incorporated into networks of underwater parks along the coast. Last week California turned that from a promise into a reality in Sonoma County.
In a precedent-setting victory, both for the tribes and ocean conservation, the Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to ensure continuation of Kashia Pomo traditional tribal harvest at Stewart’s Point. Stewart’s Point lies smack in the heart of a Sonoma County marine protected area created during the North Central Coast regional marine protected area planning process last year. Conservation organizations and tribal leaders had worked together on the proposal adopted by the Commission.
Archeological evidence indicates the tribe has used Stewart’s Point for 12,000 years to collect mussels, abalone, seaweed and fish, and hold ceremonies. The Commission’s decision ensures those traditional practices can continue while still protecting sensitive plants and marine wildlife in the surrounding area.
This welcome announcement follows closely on the heels of newly-appointed Natural Resources Secretary John Laird’s commitment to working with tribes and tribal communities. In his first month on the job, Laird has already sat down with a number of tribes and more meetings are planned to ensure their interests are considered as the state moves towards the completion of the MLPA process.
"I believe they are listening and I believe they are hearing us," said Thomas O'Rourke, chair of the Yurok Tribe. "Bottom line, we all want the same thing, and that's to protect our resources. We understand each other there."
Kudos to Laird for his leadership in directing the FGC to prioritize the issue of tribal rights (you can read about how state officials are approaching the matter in the North Coast here). This is strong evidence that stewardship for our environmental and cultural resources go hand-in-hand.
California businesses leaders have come together to support the timely implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Over 130 businesses from around the state signed a letter urging the state to prioritize ocean protection, noting that the state's environmental and economic health are closely linked.
Patagonia, Horny Toad Activewear, Rieman Surf School, Prudential California Realty, Groundswell Technologies, Inc., Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND®, Living Sea Images, Reef Seekers Dive Co., and the K Nathan Gallery in San Diego and more than 100 other businesses urged the state to invest in ocean protection:
"According to the National Ocean Economics Program, the California coastal economy is responsible for supporting more than 15 million jobs in 2008 while paying more than $797 billion in wages to those in the sector. Our coastal economy depends on abundant fish and wildlife, healthy ecosystems, and clean beaches and ocean waters. Visitors from around the world come to experience the beautiful and bountiful California coast. They stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and spend money on a range of goods and services from postcards to surf lessons.
With coastal economic activities accounting for 83 percent of the U.S. economy, ocean protection is good for business. A science-based network of Marine Protected Areas can help safeguard those valuable resources and support the long-term economic vitality of coastal communities."
-- Business leaders’ letter to the California Fish and Game Commission, October, 2010.
“This broad support from the business community underscores the fact that environmental and economic health go hand in hand in southern California,” said Kate Hanley of San Diego Coastkeeper. “From tourism to hospitality, restaurants to research, the health of our oceans is critical to the health of many local industries.”
San Diego area businesses will present the Fish and Game Commission with over 130 letters in support of the MLPA at their October 20 meeting, and will be joined by divers, surfers, scientists, elected officials, and other ocean advocates urging strong protections for southern California’s coastal treasures. The Commission is expected to finalize plans for the south coast Marine Protected Area network at their December meeting in Santa Barbara.
Marine Ecologist Enric Sala (a National Geographic Explorer and Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor) explains that the "economy versus environment"frame for ocean protection is a false choice. We can have more fish and catch them too with well-designed marine protected areas and reserves.
Sala says that marine preserves can increase the quality of fishermen's catches in the near term, increase their long-term job security, and boost tourism and recreation. As Sala puts it, a marine reserve is a savings account and you have to keep up a principle balance in order to maintain an income from it.
Additionally, marine reserves actually create jobs, and for just a fraction of the cost of what we're currently spending on unsustainable fishing subsidies.
The planning meetings have come and gone. The Blue Ribbon Task Force, Regional Stakeholder Group, Science Advisory Teamand general public have all had their say. Now the future of southern California’s coastal waters sits with the Fish and Game Commission, which met December 9, to gather input from the community and MLPA advisors before sending off four marine protected area plans for further economic and scientific analysis.
South coast residents can still weigh in via mail or email, and will have additional opportunities to comment in person when the Commission returns to southern California for three more meetings in 2010.
Although the Commission has adopted the BRTF’s Integrated Preferred Alternative as the “proposed project,” all four of the current proposals for marine protected areas on the south coast remain on the table.
So what does that mean? It means now is the time to remind the Fish and Game Commission that science should guide our state’s resource management decisions. And the conservation plan—also known as Proposal 3—is the only one that meets science guidelines and protects all southern California’s iconic ocean places, like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Palos Verdes, Laguna, Catalina Island and La Jolla. At the December 9 meeting, Dr. Steve Murray of the Science Advisory Team confirmed that Proposal 3 would produce the greatest ecosystem benefits.
Please send an email or note to the Commissioners voicing your support for Proposal 3.
Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
c/o California Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tell them to adopt a plan that will serve the region’s economy and environment. We only get one shot at this and we need to get it right!
The compromise marine protected area plan for southern California recommended by the Blue Ribbon Task Force was designed to balance fishing access with conservation. It includes protection for key feeding and breeding grounds like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Laguna, and south La Jolla, while leaving nearly 90% of south coast waters open for fishing.
The compromise plan (also known as the Integrated Preferred Alternative, or IPA) will not effect pier anglers at all, and will allow ongoing commercial and recreational fishing in popular spots like:
- Ellwood and Carpinteria Reefs in Santa Barbara County
- The entire coast of central and southern Ventura County
- Kelp beds in northern Los Angeles County
- Central Malibu and the Santa Monica Bay, including the eastern half of Big Kelp Reef
- The waters north of the Palos Verdes peninsula (including Rocky Point)
- All of Orange County, except Laguna
- North San Diego County, including the Oceanside Pier and Solana Beach kelp beds
- Northern La Jolla and Point Loma
- Most of Catalina Island
Click here to download a complete list (and map) of fishing areas left open under the BRTF's compromise plan.
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