CalOceans News

Showing all articles published in November 2009.


South coast plan has "something for everyone"

November 17th, 2009

The San Diego Union Tribune calls the marine protected area plan recommended by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force "a good compromise."

The Task Force met on November 11 to finalize their recommendations after receiving more than 10,000 emails and hearing over ten hours of public comment.  This level of community participation shows how passionate southern Californians are about their coast and ocean--it's truly the region's most iconic attraction, and many local people rely on the sea's bounty to make a living.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force considered both the economy and environment when weighing options, and recommended a middle ground plan that balanced
the concerns of different user groups

In a November 17 editorial, the San Diego Union Tribune said the south coast plan "will be good for everyone in the long run if it allows our coastal bounty to grow and thrive."

And that is precisely what the marine protected area plan is designed to do.  By protecting biological hot spots like Naples Reef, south La Jolla, and Point Dume, it will help rebuild depleted fish populations and restore fragile ecosystems.


Investment banks for fish

November 12th, 2009

A new study by UC Santa Cruz biologists, published in the scientific journal PLos ONE, shows that marine reserves can restock waters outside of their boundaries, improving fishing conditions in nearby open areas. 

The biologists monitored 58 sites in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, on the
northern shore of the Gulf of California.
They found that baby fish born in marine reserves drifted along the coast, where they could be caught by local anglers. 

Study co-author Richard Cudney-Bueno describes marine reserves as investment banks for fish.  The more you invest in protecting big fertile fish (who produce exponentially more young--see graphic), the more interest you can collect as the babies disperse in ocean currents. 

He emphasized that the location of reserves is critical--you have to protect important feeding and breeding grounds in order to maximize returns.

Luckily, southern California's new marine protected area plan, unanimously approved by the governor-appointed Blue Ribbon Task Force on November 10, would create ocean sanctuaries where big fertile fish, and other plants and animals, can grow and multiply.


BRTF recommends compromise plan for south coast

November 10th, 2009

 The Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force today voted unanimously to recommend a compromise marine protected area plan for southern California’s coastal ocean. 

Their plan a step in the right direction, and includes critical protections for iconic places like south La Jolla, Point Dume, and Naples Reef while leaving nearly 90% of the coast open for fishing.   However, it falls short of scientists' recommendations at Rocky Point and Catalina Island. 

The Task Force will present their recommendation to the California Fish & Game Commission on December 9, and the Commission is expected to make a final decision early next year.  

The Marine Life Protection Act Science Advisory Team met yesterday to assess proposals for Santa Monica Bay, San Diego, and Orange County. They emphasized the important of protecting high quality habitats where fish and invertebrates feed and breed. 

By setting aside ecological hot spots--those super productive canyons, reefs, and kelp forests that act as fish nurseries--we can improve the overall health and sustainability of southern California's ocean and fisheries.


The world is blue

November 10th, 2009

Water covers 70% of our planet, and yet most of give little thought to what lies beyond our shores.  Not so for Dr. Sylvia Earle, explorer in residence at National Geographic.

Dr. Earle has been diving for 50 years, and has seen drastic changes to the health of the ocean, and abundance of sea life during that time.

She believes that marine protected areas--like the ones California is working to create through the Marine Life Protection Act--are a critical part of the solution for the world's oceans.

On NPR Friday, she said, “If there are to be fisherman, there have to be fish. And for there to be fish, you have to protect their breeding areas, their feeding areas, the places where the little ones grow up...We've taken on the order of 90 percent of the tunas, the swordfish, the sharks, groupers, snappers.  There have to be some places that the fish can recover and serve as a source of renewal to places that have been so drastically depleted.”

Setting aside high quality, productive habitats as marine protected areas will help rebuild fisheries and restore ocean ecosystems.

Dr. Earle called the world's 4,500 marine protected areas "places of hope," but adds that only 1% of the ocean is currently protected.  To ensure the health of our blue planet, we have to do better.


Aquapolypse Now? Dr. Daniel Pauly on “the end of fish”

November 2nd, 2009

Dr. Daniel Pauly  warns that we are at the last frontier of fishing. According to his recent article in the New Republic, in the past 50 years  "we have reduced the populations of large commercial fish, such as bluefin tuna, cod, and other favorites, by a staggering 90 percent."

Dr. Pauly appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air today to talk more about the dangers of overfishing.  In the past, fishing fleets have moved to deeper waters once they deplete a certain area, but they’re running out of ocean.  Right now, 80% of the fish we consume in the U.S. is imported, and California’s fisheries are feeling the pinch: revenues are down 50% statewide since 1990.

To reverse the damage, we have to get smart about ocean protection, and it starts with establishing science-based marine protected areas. The Marine Life Protection Act is California’s chance to rebuild fish populations and restore marine ecosystems. And we have to get it right to avert the aquapolypse Dr. Pauly warns about. 

Join Audubon and other conservation groups in supporting a strong marine protected area plan for southern California.