California Delegation Shines Spotlight on Marine Protected Areas at International Conference

Aerial view of San Miguel Island of the Channel Islands, California

Photo: Jonathan Hubbell / Photo Contest 2011

This blog originally appeared on Surfrider’s Coastal Blog and was authored by:  Samantha Murray of Ocean Conservancy, Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay and Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of Surfrider.

If you’ve been lucky enough to go for a dive, surf or kayak at the Channel Islands, it’s hard not to be captivated by the cathedral kelp forests, large fish cruising the reef and clean waves breaking under your surfboard. These islands, along with special places throughout the entire California coast, enjoy protections that allow the marine wildlife inside to thrive.

Like underwater parks, the marine protected areas (MPAs for short) here act as safe havens for marine life and giant kelp forests that call southern California’s coastline home. And the good news is that globally, MPAs are on the rise. There are over 6,000 MPAs worldwide, yet less than 2 percent of our ocean is protected.

Next week, ocean scientists, policymakers, leaders and conservation professionals will be convening in France to share ideas about how to foster MPA effectiveness around the world at the 2013 International Marine Protected Areas Congress. And California’s story will be among those in the fold.

A delegation of California ocean leaders will be speaking about California’s MPAs and showcasing the Marine Life Protection Act as a model for public engagement and science integration in MPA design, as well as soaking up global MPA stories from around the world.

We wish our suitcases were big enough to bring all of California’s MPA stewards with us! Unfortunately that’s not the case, so we look forward to bringing the Congress to you virtually. Check out this WebTV link to catch live streaming of the plenary sessions and other Congress happenings.

You can join the conversation by following us on Twitter and Instagram to read daily blogs, see photos and video, and learn about how communities are building MPAs around the world.

Next time you submerge in a California MPA to enjoy the majestic kelp forest, just think that at the same time someone else might be enjoying the corals along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, whale sharks in Mozambique or diving iguanas in the Galapagos.

By listening to stories from MPAs around the world, we hope to learn how we can be better stewards of our local underwater parks. And by sharing our California stories with a global audience, we may even teach a few lessons of our own, helping to advance the goal of enhanced MPAs worldwide.

Read more perspectives on why Surfrider thinks MPAs are not only good for ocean ecosystems, but also for recreation here and here.

8 comments
Aimee Osmulski
Aimee Osmulski

I'll post some interesting facts (after work) regarding the current state of our oceans/sea life..scary stuff

Dyana Wilson
Dyana Wilson

Is there a water program that I can do with my Girl Scout troop? Do you have any Water Conservancy patches?

Melissa Chiotis
Melissa Chiotis

Sea Otters are one of reasons why Kelp is doing so well and should continue to be monitored and protected,

Bob Austin
Bob Austin

reminds me of my last Navy dive off Santa Catalina Island. great kelp "forest".

Rob King
Rob King

Thanks for some "good" news about our oceans.