The Blog Aquatic » marine protected areas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Marine Protected Areas Around the Globe: Looking Back, Moving Forward and Sharing Recipes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/04/marine-protected-areas-around-the-globe-looking-back-moving-forward-and-sharing-recipes/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/04/marine-protected-areas-around-the-globe-looking-back-moving-forward-and-sharing-recipes/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 18:00:08 +0000 Samantha Murray http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6927 bouillabaisse med roulle

Photo: cyclonebill via Flickr

I’ve recently returned from the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseille, France. The experience of meeting so many different kinds of people, all equally passionate about the ocean, has inspired me. It’s planted a desire to follow up and exchange marine protected area stories—and recipes—from California with those from around the world.

To that end, please join me this Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 2-3 p.m. PST for a lively and fun Twitter Party, where you can share the global MPA stories you heard at IMPAC3. Missed the Congress? No problem—we’d like to hear your thoughts about MPAs, even if you weren’t there. Follow @ThePacificOcean, @OurOcean and @HealTheBay, or #MPAsWork to join the conversation (and win prizes!) this Wednesday.

Sarah Sikich (Heal the Bay) and I (Ocean Conservancy) will be leading the party, but it’s largely driven by participants. Topics will include: our evolving need to understand MPAs over the last decade, Sylvia Earle’s 50 Hope Spots, the value of urban MPAs, the issue of large MPAs and quantity versus quality, our shared MPA lessons from around the world and, of course, where we go from here.

That last issue is particularly exciting: how do we take what we’ve learned, distill it down to something instructive and move forward together? Well, just like a perfect Marseille bouillabaisse, there are a few essential ingredients that must be assembled to design and implement the best MPA in the world.

The first thing the classic Provençal dish requires is a good, local recipe. Everyone does it a little differently, and it’s important to respect local culture. This holds true for MPAs as well. Write something down—a mandate if you can get it—that lays out clear goals and objectives for your specific marine protected area.

Next, start with a long, slow simmer of local Mediterranean fish, spices and herbs. Likewise for your MPA, start with a local stakeholder simmer, though in this case it might be more like a slow stew—at least at first. Get fishermen and tribes and divers and everyone else who cares about the ocean involved early to think about setting up the new protections. Arm them with clear science guidelines to bookend the conversation and ensure the outcome follows the recipe closely enough to meet the goals of the MPA.

The perfect Marseille bouillabaisse requires fresh fish of certain types, from the firm-fleshed to the gelatinous to the shellfish. Likewise, the quality of what’s protected by your MPA, not just the square mileage, is important. Protection needs to include specific habitats—like rocky reef, bull kelp or deep submarine canyon—that will best benefit marine life.

Overall, it’s best to keep the fish stew simple. Don’t go experimenting with new flavors or convoluted ways to accommodate individual dietary restrictions. Likewise, create an MPA with simple rules. No-take areas are by far the easiest to understand and enforce. After that, tinkering with the rules can degrade the integrity of the overall outcome.

It’s important to note that the process doesn’t end when the stew is cooked! The way you serve and eat this delicacy is at least as important as the way you’ve made it. Similarly, an MPA effort mustn’t end once protections are created. Implementation is at least as important as adoption, and follow-through is of paramount importance. This includes education, to enhance MPA compliance among fishermen and local communities, and monitoring, to learn how your MPA is working. Engaging partners like citizens, tribes and fishermen in both enforcement and monitoring efforts is a great way to ensure your MPA has the stewardship necessary for the long haul.

The French dish is traditionally served with a side of croutons that are meant to be individually rubbed with fresh garlic and dipped in a mayonnaise-like rouille by the diner. If you’re new to the process, that may seem complicated, so if you see someone sitting next to you who doesn’t know how to eat it properly, help them out. Similarly, it’s crucial to help ocean users and decision-makers understand the new MPA, especially in the beginning. Signs and maps help people understand new regulations, and outreach to managers will help them integrate the new protections into future coastal and ocean management decisions so that the MPA can be enjoyed to its maximum benefit.

In the end, securing a science-based MPA with local community support and the stamina to stand the test of time follows a fairly simple recipe.  I hope these lessons, largely taken from last month’s Congress, can be applied by others.

Agree or disagree with this recipe for the best marine protected area (and bouillabaisse) in the world? Join us on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. PST for our MPA Twitter Party to share your thoughts.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/04/marine-protected-areas-around-the-globe-looking-back-moving-forward-and-sharing-recipes/feed/ 5
The Top Three Lessons From Marine Protected Areas Worldwide http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/24/the-top-three-lessons-from-marine-protected-areas-worldwide/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/24/the-top-three-lessons-from-marine-protected-areas-worldwide/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 19:15:35 +0000 Samantha Murray http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6875 Aerial view of Double Cone Rock State Marine Conservation Area

Photo: Kip Evans / Ocean Conservancy

The following is an excerpt from a post that originally appeared on National Geographic NewsWatch.

We may be from more than 80 countries, and we don’t all speak the same language, but after just two days, the 1,200 participants at the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseille, France, are bonding. We all believe marine protected areas (MPAs) play an important role in the future of our ocean. Throw in some shared awe over a bowl of bouillabaisse (so. much. fish!) and a few bottles of Provençal rosé, and we’ve got more than enough fodder to fill five days of conversation.

The best part of these conversations is their authenticity and substance. Like a secret handshake we all learned during our years spent advocating for, designing, monitoring or otherwise implementing MPAs, we’ve got a shorthand that—in spite of our differences—allows us to speak in a single language about protecting our global ocean. As a result, three things keep resonating in the presentations and conversations at IMPAC3:

1. Our MPA stories are remarkably alike. They usually start with the realization that the local marine wildlife and habitat are not what they once were.

  • In Madagascar, people created the Velondriake MPA when local economically important octopus populations declined.
  • In the Mediterranean, artisanal fishermen were alarmed at the drastic changes in their local waters and supported the creation of the Marine Park in the Strait of Bonifacio.
  • In California, we recognized the decline of local rockfish and the importance of rocky reefs and passed the Marine Life Protection Act, a law which called for the nation’s first statewide network of MPAs and resulted in protection of 16 percent of the state’s 1,100-mile coastline.

Read more at National Geographic NewsWatch.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/24/the-top-three-lessons-from-marine-protected-areas-worldwide/feed/ 7
California Delegation Shines Spotlight on Marine Protected Areas at International Conference http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/18/california-delegation-shines-spotlight-on-marine-protected-areas-at-international-conference/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/18/california-delegation-shines-spotlight-on-marine-protected-areas-at-international-conference/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 15:00:53 +0000 Samantha Murray http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6846 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.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/10/18/california-delegation-shines-spotlight-on-marine-protected-areas-at-international-conference/feed/ 8
9 Great California Coastal Birding Sites http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/16/9-great-california-coastal-birding-sites/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/16/9-great-california-coastal-birding-sites/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 18:00:08 +0000 Jennifer Savage http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6662

This article originally appeared at Audubonmagazine.org.

Whether novice or expert, birdwatchers in California delight in the avian abundance along the state’s coast. California also boasts the nation’s only statewide network of marine protected areas, providing not only gorgeous places to seek out a stunning diversity of birds but insurance that their most important breeding and feeding grounds have extra protection.

Below is a list of the top bird-watching spots at these “ocean parks,” plus highlights. Additionally, there is information about visiting, plus a link to where you can learn more.

1. Point St. George Reef Offshore State Marine Conservation Area

Crescent City
Viewing site, interpretive panel on Pebble Beach Drive, just south of Point St. George

Originally inhabited by the Tolowa Dee-ni’, California’s northernmost coast boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the state and is dotted with Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas. A wide range of bird species live and migrate around nearby Lake Earl, and the profusion continues at sea, where exposed rocks and underwater ledges make up the St. George Reef. Reaching the protected area requires a boat, but visitors can experience similar conditions from the safety of the shoreline just south of the point, where Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge sits.

The refuge is a modest 14 acres, yet it supports several hundred thousand seabirds each year. Take a spotting scope to Pebble Drive from February to mid-April to catch the dawn fly-off of Aleutian cackling geese. Observe one of the largest breeding populations—100,000—of common murres making their nests along the island’s cliffs. Castle Rock is also home to three species of cormorants, pigeon guillemots, Cassin’s and rhinoceros auklets, Leach’s and fork-tailed storm-petrels, and tufted puffins.

More info: fws.gov/humboldtbay/castlerock.html

2. South Humboldt Bay State Marine Recreation Management Area

Loleta
Park along the South Spit or at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Visitors come from all over the world to watch the birds of Humboldt Bay. More than 250 species—and world-class views—make the bay, a global IBA, endlessly enjoyable. Peak season for most species of waterbirds and raptors is late fall through mid-spring. Aleutian cackling geese, Pacific brant, and migratory shorebirds have a shorter window, peaking from March to late April. In summer birders can find terns, cormorants, and pelicans as well as resident egrets, herons, and migratory songbirds, including various warblers, sparrows, and swallows.

The very best way to birdwatch on the bay is by kayak (for rentals, check with Hum-Boats, on Woodley Island). Close to the protected area is the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, in southern Humboldt Bay, offering an interpretive center that describes local Humboldt Bay habitats and wildlife. Visitors can also view birds from the South Spit, one of the two peninsulas separating Humboldt Bay from the Pacific. Because tides have great influence on which birds are seen when, make sure to check the tides before going.

More info: blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/arcata/south_spit.html and fws.gov/humboldtbay/

3. Point Reyes State Marine Reserve

Marin County, between Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon
Travel via Highway 1, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard or Point Reyes/Petaluma Road

Guidebooks refer to Point Reyes as a little piece of “civilized wilderness.” The point, a global IBA, is just 35 miles north of San Francisco, but the sense of remoteness is a world away from the bustle of the city. Approximately 470 bird species have been noted in Point Reyes National Seashore, a unit of the National Park Service. Many of those have been very rare visitors, far off course during their spring or fall migrations, but the birding can be rewarding at any time of year. The Point Reyes Bird Observatory is located in the southern portion of the park and offers mist-netting demonstrations, a nature trail, and monthly trips to various locations around Marin County. Additionally, visitors can fish, kayak, ride horses, camp, or stay at the park hostel.

More info: nps.gov/pore/index.htm

Read about six more great birding sites on the California Coast at Audubonmagazine.org.

Photo credits for slideshow:

  1. Tufted Puffin: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  2. Wandering Tattler: Dominic Sherony via Creative Commons
  3. White-faced Ibis: Linda Tanner via Creative Commons
  4. Peregrine Falcon: Juan Lacruz via Creative Commons
  5. Cassin’s Auklet: Duncan Wright via Creative Commons
  6. Black Turnstone: Michael Baird via Creative Commons
  7. Storm Petrel: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  8. Yellow-billed Loon: Len Blumin via Creative Commons
  9. Black Oystercatcher: Dick Daniels via Creative Commons
  10. Long-eared Owl: Gregory Smith  via Creative Commons
]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/16/9-great-california-coastal-birding-sites/feed/ 3
Slideshow: Yesterday’s Ocean: A History of Marine Life on California’s Central Coast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/19/slideshow-yesterdays-ocean-a-history-of-marine-life-on-californias-central-coast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/19/slideshow-yesterdays-ocean-a-history-of-marine-life-on-californias-central-coast/#comments Mon, 19 Aug 2013 15:00:24 +0000 Paul Hobi http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6539

Prolific underwater photographer Marc Shargel has released a new publication on California’s sea life: “Yesterday’s Ocean: A History of Marine Life on California’s Central Coast.” Using present-day images and archival photographs, this booklet tells the story of Central California’s boom-and-bust relationship with ocean fisheries over the past three centuries.

As fishermen in the past discovered, the ocean is not without its limits. In “Yesterday’s Ocean,” Shargel shows that after short, intense periods of exploitation, stocks of otters, abalone and sardines became much harder to find. As one species was depleted, another was targeted.

This pattern came to characterize many of California’s Central Coast fisheries, eventually leading to the spectacular crash of the sardine fishery in the late 1940s. The story told in “Yesterday’s Ocean” perfectly illustrates the tragedy of the commons: left unchecked, fishermen exploited species after species until each had collapsed.

Ocean Conservancy has made great strides to ensure that Pacific Ocean ecosystems receive the protection they need. In California, after years of hard work, the state finished implementing a statewide network of 124 marine protected areas in 2012.

Taking it one step further, at our urging, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council recently adopted an informal Fisheries Ecosystem Plan to manage fish stocks using ecosystem-based management. This is a critical first step in improving fisheries management in the region because the plan looks at entire ecosystems instead of just one fish at a time.

If there is one thing we can learn from the boom-and-bust cycles of the Central Coast’s fisheries, it is the time-honored lesson that those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat it.

Fisheries managers are facing tough decisions now that will determine the future health of our local marine life, from tiny herring to giant white sharks. The history lesson found in “Yesterday’s Ocean” can serve as motivation for getting it right.

For more on “Yesterday’s Ocean,” check out this Thank You Ocean interview with Marc Shargel:

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/19/slideshow-yesterdays-ocean-a-history-of-marine-life-on-californias-central-coast/feed/ 7
Kayaking in Humboldt Bay’s Newly Protected Area http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/28/kayaking-in-humboldt-bays-newly-protected-area/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/28/kayaking-in-humboldt-bays-newly-protected-area/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 19:08:16 +0000 Jennifer Savage http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6208

Humboldt Bay invites exploration. From the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary on the north end to the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the south, animal life abounds.

In the middle of the bay, two islands stand tall: Indian Island, the traditional center of the Wiyot people’s world, and Woodley Island, home to a marina that includes HumBoats, where kayaks and stand-up paddleboard rentals provide means to discover the bay.

In the northern end, kayakers and rowers regularly glide between oyster farmers and fishermen. Down in the southern end, more mystery exists – especially where a square off the bay’s southern peninsula was designated as a marine protected area in December 2012.

Read more at California’s Redwood Coast Blog.

 

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/28/kayaking-in-humboldt-bays-newly-protected-area/feed/ 7
Celebrating a Big Week for California Coasts http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/21/celebrating-a-big-week-for-california-coasts/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/21/celebrating-a-big-week-for-california-coasts/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 17:59:20 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3978 Marin headlands shoreline and Golden Gate Bridge

Penny Harmeyer, Photo Contest 2011

California coasts—and all of the wildlife and people who enjoy them—are having “the best week ever.”

North Coast protected areas go into effect

Earlier this week, we celebrated the official completion of California’s statewide network of underwater parks—the first in the nation—as the North Coast marine protected areas went into effect.

As our own Jennifer Savage wrote, earlier in the week, this completed network marks the culmination of many years’ work, and protected areas will go a long way toward ensuring that ocean wildlife can thrive:

From the Oregon border to the Mexican border, the fish, birds, mammals and plants that depend on the dynamic habitats of the California coast now have a series of reserves and conservation areas that will allow their populations to recover where needed and protect them from depletion in the future. Not only is this good for the sea creatures, but a thriving ocean benefits all of California, from the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on healthy fisheries to all aspects of the state’s tourism-dependent economy …

Sea otter restrictions lifted in California waters

California’s conservation victories continued this week with news that the “otter-free zone” off the coast of California is being eliminated, allowing sea otters to swim freely throughout the region.

Allowing these important predators to expand into and migrate through the nearshore environment will result in real ecosystem benefits, says Lilian Carswell of the National Fish and Wildlife Service. “It gives a richness and integrity to our natural system.”

President Obama to expand national marine sanctuaries

And finally, in a triple-win for the coastal state, President Obama announced plans to expand two of California’s national marine sanctuaries and permanently ban oil drilling along more than 50 miles of Northern California coast.

The proposed expansion will more than double the size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, enlarging them by 2,771 square miles.

“This area is a national treasure,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who led sanctuary expansion efforts. “It needs and it deserves permanent protection from oil and gas exploration.”

The sanctuary expansion effort is expected to take up to two years to complete.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/21/celebrating-a-big-week-for-california-coasts/feed/ 1