Welcome to the April issue of the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Education and Outreach newsletter!
In this issue:
- We explore a special issue of the Ocean and Coastal Management journal focused on California's marine protected areas.
- Highlight a success story from Florida
- Report some recent ocean news stories
- Share a short video explaining why the ocean is critical to the planet.
Lots of exciting things happening in the world's ocean!
Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation
California's Globally Significant Network of Underwater Parks
California's recently completed network of marine protected areas were established under the state's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, a unique public-private partnership that involved input from stakeholders, scientists, experts, resource managers, policy-makers and the public. The resulting network of underwater parks is the largest scientifically based network in the United States and one of the largest in the world.
How California accomplished this is the subject of a special issue of the journal Ocean and Coastal Management released last month. Nine articles by key participants in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative analyze the challenges, achievements and lessons learned in the marine protected area planning processes.
"This special issue provides an important record of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative's work and how California conducted public processes to design an improved system of marine protected areas and therefore provides important lessons that can inform other similar efforts," said Mary Gleason, senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy.
Success Story: Tortugas Ecological Reserve
In another resounding endorsement for marine protected areas, a new NOAA research report has found that both fish populations and commercial and recreational anglers are benefiting from the "no-take" protections of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The key findings of the report, which looked at both socioeconomic and scientific data, found that after the reserve was established in 2001:
- Overfished species such as black and red grouper, yellowtail and mutton snapper increased in presence, abundance and size inside the reserve and throughout the region;
- Annual gatherings of spawning mutton snapper, once thought to be wiped out from overfishing began to reform inside the Reserve;
- Commercial catches of reef fish in the region increased, and continue to do so; and
- Commercial or recreational anglers did not experience any net financial loss due to the implementation of the reserve in the short-term. These fishermen appeared to adapt to the new reserve by shifting effort towards fishing grounds closer to their home ports.
"This research shows that marine reserves and economically viable fishing industries can coexist," said Sean Morton, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent. "The health of our economy is tied to the health of our oceans. They are not mutually exclusive."
State Appeals Court Upholds California Marine Reserves
In a recent court ruling, a state appeals court has decided that California's marine protected areas are well-founded and has allowed the network to stand, stating that no laws were violated in their establishment. This win supports our state's efforts to protect our coast and ocean's vital resources and as Karen Garrison with the Natural Resources Defense Council said, "Protected areas are working. People are engaged and excited about them. Now the legal win makes them very solid."
Obama Administration Releases National Ocean Policy Plan
The Obama Administration has just released its final plan for translating the National Ocean Policy into on-the-ground actions to benefit the American people. The final Implementation Plan describes specific actions Federal agencies will take to address key ocean challenges, give states and communities greater input in Federal decisions, streamline Federal operations, save taxpayer dollars, and promote economic growth. As John P. Holdren, Co-Chair of the National Ocean Council, said "The President's National Ocean Policy and the new implementation plan will help advance relevant science and its application to decision-making to strengthen the economies of our coastal regions while increasing their resilience and sustaining their resources."
Video: Why the Ocean Matters
Covering 72 percent of the Earth and supplying half its oxygen, the ocean is our planet's life support system and it's in danger. Watch this video produced by National Geographic to learn why a healthier ocean means a healthier planet, and find out how you can help.