CalOceans News

Showing all articles published in August 2011.


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New south coast parks will be worth the wait!

August 26th, 2011

After more than two years of planning, we are gearing up for the grand opening of southern California’s new underwater state parks!  Originally, the marine protected areas were scheduled to open on October 1. However, the State is still working to make sure the final rules match up to the plans proposed by our community and approved by the Fish and Game Commission. So, we will have to wait a few more weeks to celebrate.

While looking forward to the opening of protected areas at south La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, and Naples Reef, you can whet your appetite by exploring some of California’s existing ocean parks. Check out these 3-D swim through videos of Elkhorn Slough and Point Buchon on the central coast.  Or watch a live dive tour of the Channel Islands marine reserve offshore from Santa Barbara.

Anyone that has experienced Anacapa Island’s lush kelp forests knows the Channel Islands marine reserves, created in 2002, have produced great results in just nine years: the protected areas are teeming with life. And that’s just one success story among many!  A new study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography documented record-breaking benefits from a Baja California marine reserve.

The Scripps report showed the number of fish in Mexico's Cabo Pulmo marine reserve soared 463 percent in a decade. This jewel of Baja was once depleted, but the local community banded together to secure its protection, and now both fishing and tourism are booming in the area.

Marine ecologist Enric Sala said in National Geographic, “[the study] shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.”

The Cabo Pulmo results are extraordinary, but Scripps fisheries ecologist Brad Erisman said in the San Diego Union-Tribune that a similar turnaround is possible in southern California.

We will let you know about the new opening date for southern California’s marine protected areas as soon as the Commission announces it at their September 15 meeting.

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Ocean miracle for California?

August 16th, 2011

A new study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography has proven marine reserves—stretches of protected ocean habitat—to be even more powerful than previously thought.  These undersea parks can transform depleted areas into powerhouses of productivity, boosting fishermen’s catches and profits, as well as tourism and recreation activity.

The report showed the number of fish in a marine reserve near the southern tip of Baja California soared 463 percent between 1999 and 2009. That’s a world record, said authors of the peer-reviewed paper, which was published today in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.

The economic and ecological value of marine reserves is well established. Scientists have studied more than 150 reserves in 61 countries to date, and have found tremendous gains in the size and numbers of plants and animals, as well as increased diversity and resilience.

This news from the Cabo Pulmo marine park in Baja comes at a particularly exciting time for California, since the state will expand its network of marine reserves on October 1, adding critically needed protections for hot spots like La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, and Naples Reef.   

Octavio Aburto-Oropeza from Scripps, who led the decade-long research project at Cabo Pulmo told KGTV in San Diego that he hopes the success from Baja will inspire smart resource management elsewhere in the world:

"Few policymakers around the world are aware that fish size and abundance can increase inside marine reserves to extraordinary levels within a decade after protection is established -- fewer still know that these increases often translate into economic benefits for coastal communities…Therefore, showing what's happened in Cabo Pulmo will contribute to ongoing conservation efforts in the marine environment and recovery of local coastal economies."

Marine ecologist Enric Sala said in National Geographic:

“Opponents of conservation argue that regulating fishing will destroy jobs and hurt the economy–but they are wrong, and there are real-world examples that prove this. A scientific study published today by the Public Library of Science shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.”

The Cabo Pulmo results are extraordinary, but Scripps fisheries ecologist Brad Erisman said in the San Diego Union Tribune that a similar turnaround is possible in southern California.

Local groups are hard at work laying the groundwork for success. From citizen science programs like MPA Watch to public private partnerships like Orange County Marine Protected Areas, and education events and materials by local aquaria, many organizations are already spreading the word about the protections going into place on October 1.

The new southern California ocean parks are just one piece of a statewide system called for in the Marine Life Protection Act, MLPA, designed to improve the health of marine systems for the benefit of all ocean users.  The Cabo Pulmo study is just further evidence California is on the right track.