CalOceans News

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Good for the economy and environment

February 23rd, 2010

Several new studies released at this week's American Association for the Advancement of Sciences conference have found that well-designed networks of marine reserves can provide both economic and environmental benefits. 

Scientists from UC Santa Barbara, Scripps Institute and Stanford University were quoted over the weekend:

Steven Gaines, Dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara said in Science Daily, "There is plenty of new evidence to show that if reserves are designed well, they can benefit both fish and fishermen,"

UC Santa Barbara’s Andrew Rassweiler said in Science News that a new southern California marine reserve network could boost fishing industry profits: “People fishing can make more money with smaller impacts on the species being fished.”

Science Magazine
cited the Channel Islands and Great Barrier Reef marine reserve networks to show that protecting small areas can produce big returns.  A five-year study in the Channel Island found rockfish numbers up by 50%, and their size up by 80%.  And predictions of economic losses from the Great Barrier Reef protections have proven completely unfounded--the number of recreational fishing licenses has gone up since the reserves there were created.

Several of the studies emphasized the importance of community engagement in creating an effective marine reserve network. California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is being implemented through a participatory public process. Stanford scientist Stephen Palumbi said in the San Diego Union Tribune that the MLPA is also rooted in sound science: “There are probably 120 to 150 studies of how reserves function within their borders, and even small reserves tend to give positive results.”

Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Ed Parnell, who has proposed protections for the reef and kelp beds at south La Jolla, said: “We know what the benefit will be for the species in the reserves. They will increase in density, and they will increase in size.”

This fact sheet
summarizes the new marine reserves research.