Showing all articles published in April 2010.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this day, and it is finally upon us! Tomorrow, after over 2 years of hard work by a dedicated group of divers, fishermen, conservationists, and other local interests, the north central coast marine protected area system will go into effect, protecting iconic areas like Point Reyes Headlands, Bodega Head, the Farallon Islands, and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
The new underwater parks will include about 86 square miles of fully protected marine reserves, along with other areas that will receive additional protections but where some fishing is allowed.
Three cheers for the hard working Regional Stakeholder Group that literally met for hundreds of hours to develop this plan. By protecting these special ocean “hot spots,” key feeding and breeding grounds, we’ve taken a great step forward in our efforts to ensure the long-term health and productivity of California’s ocean.
Now get out there and go see some of our new ocean parks. Here are a couple upcoming opportunities: guided tidepool explorations at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach and Duxbury Reef in Bolinas. Hope to see you there!
The following video, produced by photographer Kip Evans, explains how California's Marine Life Protection Act, and the science-based system of marine protected areas it will create along our coast, will help restore the ocean to abundance.
Following up on last week’s post on the need to give the ocean its fair share of the Earth Day attention, CalOceans would like to share this TIME magazine article that presents a theory on why ocean health never gets adequate attention. Whether you’re talking about funding for conservation, or marine protected areas (which account for a scant 0.8% of the world’s ocean), the deep blue sea that covers 70% of the planet gets short shrift.
The cause, suggests TIME’s Bryan Walsh, is that we can’t see the degradation human activity is causing to the ocean. In the words of Jean-Michel Cousteau: “Because we’re visual creatures and we can’t see what’s going on, we don’t relate.”
We have fished out an estimated 90% of the major commercial fish species. Commercial fishing trawlers rake the sea floor, destroying habitat. Pollution flows unchecked.
Fortunately, and as the article points out, MPAs can “make a significant difference in ocean health.” They give sea life a break from human influence and a chance to recover. It’s good to receive a reminder that here in California, we’re on the right track with the Marine Life Protection Act, which will result in a network of MPAs along the full length of the coast.
For all the armies of scientists and thousands of hours spent researching the sea, it’s amazing how little we still know about it. For example, we still don’t know exactly how this Californian water worm glues things together underwater (although the Navy sure would like to figure it out!).
Fortunately, there’s a global Census of Marine Life being conducted right now, and the decade-long project is set to be completed and the findings released in October. The census has involved more than 2,000 scientists from more than 80 nations, who thus far have discovered more than 5,000 new forms of marine life. Researchers think there may be several times that many yet to be found.
The ocean, it seems, is like the rainforest: the more we learn, the more we realize how little we actually understand! But as research progresses, we learn more about what makes our oceans work, and this understanding allows us to make better decisions about how to manage our aquatic natural resources.
Here in California, scientists are embarking on the most comprehensive study of coastal ecosystems ever as part of the science follow-up to the Marine Life Protection Act. They are in the water now gathering basline data on kelp, fish, and other sea life, and will be collecting information both inside of and around northern California's new marine protected areas to track their progress.
Tomorrow is Earth Day, when we step back and take the time to admire the natural wonder of our environment. One day hardly seems sufficient for such a large and important subject. We hear a lot about making every day Earth Day – a notion we at CalOceans support wholeheartedly.
But our Earth is made up of more than earth. In fact, 70 percent of it is ocean! So this Earth Day, take some time to pay tribute to that big, blue “silent majority” off the coast. One good way to celebrate is to go see the new Disney Nature movie, “Oceans.” Narrated by MPA advocate Pierce Brosnan, it’s a moving visual spectacle: incredible sea life and habitat, from whales and sardines to kelp forests and coral reefs.
Such a vast and wonderful world off our shores, and the Marine Life Protection Act is our change, in California, to give all that sea life and fighting chance at survival as our environment continues to change.
Happy Earth Day from your friends at CalOceans!
Today, California’s Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to move ahead with plans to protect Point Reyes Headlands, Bodega Head, the Farallon Islands, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, and other northern California ocean hot spots with a new network of underwater state parks.
Last August the Commission approved a marine protected area plan for state waters between Pigeon Point and Point Arena. The plan, designed by local stakeholders and based on the best available marine science, will set aside the region’s richest kelp forests, rocky reefs, and canyons to boost the health and productivity of the entire coastline. It will go into effect on May 1, 2010, and the Commission has already approved plans for university and citizen scientists to monitor the new protected areas to track their effectiveness.
The network includes 21 marine protected areas designed to protect the region’s most sensitive sea life and habitats while - leaving almost 90 percent of the coast open to fishing.
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