CalOceans News

Showing all articles with tag: marine park.


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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.