CalOceans News

Showing all articles published in April 2011.


A fix for overfishing seen in marine reserves

April 29th, 2011

Recently, Earth Day and the Gulf oil spill anniversary inspired an abundance of commentary on the state of the environment.  At a time when we hear a lot about the damage we’ve done to the planet, it’s helpful to remember there’s also great progress being made, and many ways we as individuals can help address environmental problems.  We know overfishing leads to the collapse of fish stocks and marine reserves are one positive step towards correcting this, in addition to voting with our forks for more sustainable seafood.  Studies show that there is hope these problems are not permanent; the ocean has an amazing ability to rebound when given a chance.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman has a particular interest in diet and how our choices relate to personal and environmental health.  In his opinion column, he writes on what he sees as the easiest fix--the implementation of marine reserves to ensure thriving sea life.  

"There’s some hope in the overfishing department, and strangely enough the gulf is an example of this. When huge areas were closed to fishing during the spill, many fish stocks rebounded. We’ve seen this before: fish stocks boomed during World War II, when the North Atlantic was not a safe place to be. This is why marine reserves — areas where no fishing is allowed — make so much sense."

It’s encouraging to see how the word is spreading about how well marine ecosystems recover when protected areas are put in place.  And you, dear readers, continue to play a critical role in the creation of California’s system of protections, so hats off to you!

Bittman’s piece can be found here.

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Marine Protected Areas Digest Volume I: Eyes on the Water

April 29th, 2011

Welcome to the premier issue of Marine Protected Areas Digest, your monthly summary of news on the efforts to protect California’s special ocean places. In December, we scored a huge victory when the state approved lasting protections for southern California gems like La Jolla, Laguna, Catalina, and Naples Reef, but there is more work to be done to keep the planned ocean parks on track, and ensure divers, surfers, kayakers, tidepoolers, boaters and fishermen know about them.  We hope you’ll join us in spreading the word!

Each month we’ll share news about local ocean protection, research, and education efforts – and opportunities to get involved! This month, we focus on two programs that are helping to track activities in current and planned marine protected areas. These monitoring efforts help educate area users, gather valuable data and promote smart ocean management.

* MPA Watch – Last year, Monterey Coastkeeper and The Otter Project created an innovative citizen science program, where volunteers help collect data on coastal and ocean use to help inform management of central coast protected areas.  Now, Heal the Bay is launching a similar program to track uses of the soon-to-be-created marine protected area at Point Dume near Santa Monica.

* Aerial Surveys – Santa Monica Baykeeper and Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission have teamed up with volunteer pilots from LightHawk on a series of flyovers to document use in and around planned south coast protected areas. You can see their findings, and a map of the marine protected areas coming soon to a coastal zone near you, here.  

Happy Earth Month, and here's to protecting the other 70% of the planet (the blue parts!)

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Students raise abalone destined for new home in Laguna MPA

April 20th, 2011

High school students in Dana Hills are learning about marine science through a hands-on project that has both an educational and restoration benefits.  They are helping to foster abalone destined for a new home in Laguna Beach Marine Protected Area.

Dana Hills High is one of seven schools participating in a program to increase kids’ understanding of marine ecology by raising and studying green abalone in the classroom. Students have the opportunity to work with the threatened species thanks to teacher Randy Hudson, who enlisted the help of marine biologist Nancy Caruso to help start the classroom aquaculture project.

Caruso has applied for a permit to release the adult abalone into Laguna Beach Marine Protected Area, where they can continue to grow and reproduce.  The native green abalone were once plentiful in the area, but overfishing has caused their numbers to dwindle. 

The course gives students the opportunity to see, first hand, how even little things can make an impact in a healthy ecosystem.

“I think this type of project is empowering for kids because it allows them to actually do something impactful instead of leaving them wondering how they as individuals could make even a dent in a huge problem,” said Hudson. “This is the kind of learning that will see kids leave high school as stewards rather than just students.”

Read the entire article in the Dana Point Times here.

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National Geographic highlights value of marine reserves

April 18th, 2011

Marine ecologist Enric Sala is one of the authors of a recent study published in PLoS Biology on human impacts on coral reefs.  He comments on the study's findings in National Geographic, offering a great side note on the effectiveness of marine protected areas. 

The study, conducted on 2,000 reefs worldwide, highlights the benefits of balancing the “take” with “give” in man’s relationship with the ocean.

Marine reserves get a special mention when Sala credits the remarkable connection between these ocean sanctuaries and a thriving ocean:

“Fish biomass increases an average of five times in these reserves relative to adjacent unprotected areas — and after a few years fish spill over and fishermen increase their catch around the reserves”.

Sala offers that the key to bringing balance to our waters lies with no-take areas.  The study also confirms the ability of the ocean to heal itself once these protected areas are in place:

“We know how to bring ocean biodiversity back: with good fisheries management and creating more no-take marine reserves.”

The article is a powerful testament to the benefits of marine protected areas for everyone that depends on a healthy ocean for work or play.

“In the end, it’s not just about the fishes, it’s about us enjoying all those wonderful services that we need so desperately — and the dollars they bring to our economy. If we want to be able to eat more fish, and to make more money out of the ocean, let’s keep more fish in it. Let’s be selfish for once”.

The full article can be found here.