Search The Archives
By Karen Garrison, Co-Director of NRDC’s Oceans Program
Our Ocean Savings Account
If you have read the news lately, you know that many of the world's fisheries are in trouble. And although Californians have been making progress on a number of fronts in managing our oceans more sustainably, we are not immune to this trend.
Last year, Scripps' scientists discovered that the numbers of two popular sportfish-kelp and barred sand bass-are down 90% from historic levels. Halibut, another popular recreational fish, has also been showing signs of stress. Marina del Rey Anglers cancelled their famous halibut derby in 2010, and opened it last year to other fish to allow halibut populations to recover.
Californians care about our magnificent ocean, whether we fish or surf or relax at the beach. We increasingly take steps to be better stewards, from checking the Seafood Watch List before eating fish to joining beach cleanups. Few steps are more exciting than the string of protected biological gems the state has been creating through the Marine Life Protection Act. Studies show that well designed underwater parks will produce a variety of benefits, from boosting the size and productivity of fish in these areas to helping restore nursery habitats like kelp and fueling coastal businesses.
Scientist Enric Sala recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Review that described marine reserves as "fish banks." It was included in the Review's List of Audacious Ideas for Solving the World's Problems.
Sala describes the impressive results found when areas of the ocean are allowed to recover from overfishing, based on data on 124 marine reserves in 29 countries. The number of species in these fish banks increased by about 20%, on average, and the fish grew about 28% bigger. The average amount of fish per hectare increased 166%, on average, and the total weight of fish shot up over fourfold in a ten-year period.
Protected status puts these places on the map: they draw divers, surfers, bird watchers, and other visitors who spend money locally.
Here in California, we are close to completing the nation's first statewide network of marine reserves, protecting the areas where fish feed and breed. The new network is a bold step, but it's also a smart one, grounded in the best available science. We know marine reserves work, and we can look forward to ecological and economic benefits.I like to think of our marine reserves as a savings account for the seas. California has made an investment that has already started earning interest and will, in Sala's words, help protect Earth's biggest asset-the ocean.
Browse in : [ Reports ]
There are no comments attached to this item.
The Majority Vote
The Echo Chamber