The Blog Aquatic » mlpa http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:21:33 +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.

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Fishing for Data: How a Day on the Water is Aiding Scientific Success http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/28/fishing-for-data-how-a-day-on-the-water-is-aiding-scientific-success/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/28/fishing-for-data-how-a-day-on-the-water-is-aiding-scientific-success/#comments Thu, 28 Feb 2013 21:29:40 +0000 Paul Hobi http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4817

Credit — Kip Evans

When volunteer anglers aboard the Huli Cat bait a hook trying to catch a rockfish, they’re not just fishing – they’re helping researchers learn more about California’s underwater parks. Recreational fishermen, SCUBA divers, PhD scientists and graduate students are working together to study California’s marine protected areas (MPAs), and results from their studies are being presented this week in Monterey.

Five years ago, California completed its network of MPAs on California’s central coast. This anniversary is being marked with the State of the California Central Coast Symposium, which brings together scientists, resource managers, policy makers, fishermen and conservationists to learn about new findings from dozens of monitoring efforts and discuss perspectives on MPA management.

Early results suggest that the reserves are on track, allowing fish like cabezon and lingcod to grow larger and more abundant inside MPAs, with habitats that are more biologically productive. This, along with steadily increasing revenues for fishermen, is good news for the Central Coast MPAs. However, researchers stress that these first five years of study are meant to create a baseline: a barometer of ecological health against which future MPA performance can be measured. So, how exactly are these reserves being studied? It turns out that monitoring is both sophisticated and wonderfully simple.

One great example of this is Dr. Rick Starr’s California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP), which uses local charter fishing boats to monitor four MPAs. Volunteer anglers from the local fishing community team up with graduate students by fishing for rockfish while painstakingly recording the weight and species of every fish they catch and release. They’ve caught over 40,000 fish in the past five years, and have noted how great the fishing is by the relative abundance of some species inside the MPAs.

Another monitoring project is Reef Check, which teams PhD researchers up with citizen scientists who strap on SCUBA gear to survey shallow and deep rocky habitats, kelp forests, rocky shores, estuaries, beaches and other key ecosystems along the central coast. They monitor ecologically and economically important species of fishes and invertebrates, and human activities including fishing and recreational use.

One consistent theme in these studies is that citizens of the coast are vital to the success of the marine reserves. Volunteers have been involved in scores of monitoring and outreach projects. Citizen science efforts like MPA Watch have trained hundreds of volunteers to monitor beach and coastal use in and around protected areas like Natural Bridges and Año Nuevo.

Save Our Shores’ Dockwalker program is another great example of an organization working with coastal citizens to help the MPAs. The Dockwalker program shares information with boaters and fishermen about MPAs, and conducts ocean protection workshops in local schools. In turn, schools are making visits to the underwater parks part of their outdoor education program, because in addition to enabling kids to watch wildlife in nature, many now feature full-color educational interpretive displays and instructor programs.

From school children looking to learn more about marine life to fishermen looking to catch more fish, California’s new marine protected areas are an investment in the future. By studying them with the assistance of citizen volunteers, we are learning about the full range of benefits they provide to marine ecosystems, and becoming better stewards of these places in the process.

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Protecting Fish is Good for Business: How a Florida Study Bodes Well for California http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/11/protecting-fish-is-good-for-business-how-a-florida-study-bodes-well-for-california/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/11/protecting-fish-is-good-for-business-how-a-florida-study-bodes-well-for-california/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 23:12:29 +0000 Samantha Murray http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4572

A school of blue tang — NOAA

According to NOAA’s new study on the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, protecting fish is in everyone’s best interest.

The 151-square nautical mile reserve was established in 2001 to protect overfished species. According to Science Daily, the protections have boosted fish populations, with bigger and more abundant yellowtail, mutton snapper and black and red grouper appearing within the reserve. These results are consistent with findings marine reserves around the world, which find again and again that the size, abundance and diversity of marine life increase inside fully protected marine reserves.

The biggest news for resource managers, however, is the socioeconomic implications. The new study finds that commercial catches of reef fish in the region have increased along with the fish population increases, and that neither commercial nor recreational fishermen have experienced financial loss as a result of the reserve.

Sean Morton, sanctuary superintendent, told Science Daily:

“This research shows that marine reserves and economically viable fishing industries can coexist/ The health of our economy is tied to the health of our oceans. They are not mutually exclusive.”

This is good news for California, where extensive collaboration between commercial and recreational fishermen, divers, scientists and conservationists recently resulted in the completion of a statewide network of marine protected areas, including fully protected reserves. This study provides an encouraging outlook for the ability of marine protected areas to boost fish populations, while also benefitting local fishing communities.

Later this month, a symposium in Monterey, CA will gather scientists, resource managers and stakeholders to share research and baseline monitoring results on the Central Coast marine protected areas that have been in place for five years. We are hopeful that early findings will suggest similar success for both fish and fishermen.

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California Underwater Parks Day is January 19th http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/17/california-underwater-parks-day-is-january-19th/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/17/california-underwater-parks-day-is-january-19th/#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 16:00:50 +0000 Paul Hobi http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4218

Credit: NOAA

The first month of the year is perhaps the best time to experience California’s ocean at its finest – which is why the 5th Annual Underwater Parks Day on Saturday, January 19th is a great reason to hit the coast and enjoy one of over 100 new underwater parks, which protect entire ecosystems at iconic coastal areas such as La Jolla, Point Reyes, and Point Lobos. To find an event near you, we’ve included a full schedule of events by region linked below.

It’s already been a busy month for California’s new underwater parks. Grey whales are traveling south along the coast to lagoons in Baja, California where they will give birth to calves. Some preemies and their mothers are already showing up off the coast of Los Angeles and San Diego, delighting whale watchers.

Further north, in Piedras Blancas and Año Nuevo State Park’s marine protected areas, male elephant seals are engaging in their spectacular, violent mating rituals, while females are giving birth to a new generation of pups. Friends of the Elephant Seal and Año Nuevo State Park docents offer guided tours of the action to visitors, who should use extreme caution and approach seals only with the assistance of a guide. Can’t make it to the beach to see the action? Check out a slideshow of mothers and their new pups at Año Nuevo.

Stewards of the state’s underwater parks have planned activities and celebrations throughout the California coast at state beaches, aquaria, and nature centers, which are perfect for kids and adults to enjoy a day surrounded by sea life and learn more about the benefits of protecting California’s prime ocean habitats. Before you head out, don’t forget to check out our tips for watching wildlife to make sure everyone (including the animals!) stay safe.


Southern California Events
(San Diego to Santa Barbara)
Central California Events (Morro Bay to Santa Cruz)
Northern California Events (San Francisco to Arcata).

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Slide Show: Exploring California’s New Underwater Parks http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/20/slide-show-exploring-california-new-underwater-parks/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/20/slide-show-exploring-california-new-underwater-parks/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 20:32:00 +0000 Paul Hobi http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3956

Dive in above for a closer look at California’s recently completed statewide network of underwater parks, some of the species they protect, and the people that are enjoying them.

Over 120 new parks now dot the California coast, protecting habitat-rich areas and iconic locations like Point Reyes, La Jolla, Point Lobos, and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. These parks have the potential to restore abundance to depleted areas, and ensure a healthy ocean full of fish for the future.

Read our in-depth look at the nation’s first statewide network of underwater parks here.

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California Celebrates 19 New Underwater Parks, Completes First Statewide Network in Nation http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/19/california-celebrates-19-new-underwater-parks-completes-first-statewide-network-in-nation/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/19/california-celebrates-19-new-underwater-parks-completes-first-statewide-network-in-nation/#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 07:10:59 +0000 Jennifer Savage http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3927

The brand spanking new Double Cone Rock State Marine Conservation Area. Photo Credit: Kip Evans/Ocean Conservancy

Each day, many of us do small things we hope will benefit the ocean. We bring our own coffee mug. We pack our groceries into cloth bags. We wash our cloth napkins in cold water and buy our detergent in bulk. We bring our own to-go containers to the sushi spot – and we always order our fish based on what’s sustainable.

But the ocean is in trouble, and needs more than individual efforts for deepened protection. In California, efforts to restore the state’s depleted fish populations resulted in the Marine Life Protection Act, which passed the legislature back in 1999.

Today, the California network – the first in our nation – finally becomes complete: The North Coast marine protected areas go into effect. 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 – people come to California to see the ocean, be awed by the magnificence of migrating whales, explore the glowing tide pools along our beaches, delight in barbecuing lingcod, fresh-caught or bought off the docks.

The Central Coast was finished first in 2007 and includes gems such as Point Arguello, home to tunas and rockfish, and critical for the recovery of southern sea otters. The North Central Coast followed in 2010, establishing greater protection for remarkable places likePoint Reyes, home to 45 percent of North American bird species. South Coast marine protected areas went into effect in 2012, creating safe places for ocean wildlife to thrive in iconic places including Big Sur and La Jolla.

The journey from inception of the Marine Life Protection Act to completion of the state network wasn’t easy, but along the way, we learned. Scientific studies highlighted the importance and success of marine protected areas around the world. Economic analysis helped broker compromise, where necessary, between commercial fishermen and ocean advocates. The state’s relationship with tribal citizens evolved dramatically – particularly in the North Coast, where ensuring historical tribal gathering could continue uninterrupted was a focus of every discussion. Joint efforts between tribal representatives, state elected officials, regional stakeholders and California’s Department of Fish & Game resulted in tribal use being incorporated into marine protected area regulations.

The North Coast is also notable for being the only region where all stakeholders – commercial and recreational fishermen, divers, birders, tribal representatives, conservationists, educators and harbor masters – agreed on a single proposal. Again, along the way, we learned.

The 19 new North Coast underwater parks span from just south of Fort Bragg up to the Oregon border and cover about 13 percent of the region. They include Pyramid Point’s rugged coastline; Point St. George Reef, home to the second largest nesting seabird colony south of Alaska, and waters at the mouth of waterways such as Ten Mile River that are critical for salmon and steelhead populations.

Efforts to solve the ocean’s problems must include the big steps as well as the small – but all matter. Today and in the future, we can celebrate the great achievement of the Marine Life Protection Act by visiting California’s beaches – picnic foods packed in reusable containers, stainless steel water bottles filling our cloth tote bag. And as we relax, we can admire the birds, seals, anemones and other sea life that make our ocean so amazing, and rejoice in the greater protection they’re now provided.

Watch a slide show celebrating California’s new underwater parks.

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Sunset Magazine Calls California’s New Ocean Parks “A String of Pearls” http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/16/sunset-magazine-calls-californias-new-ocean-parks-a-string-of-pearls/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/16/sunset-magazine-calls-californias-new-ocean-parks-a-string-of-pearls/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 18:56:47 +0000 Jennifer Savage http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3242

One of Southern California’s most renowned dive and snorkel sites, La Jolla Cove’s protected area has recently been expanded.

Globally, marine protected areas aren’t new — but they are news! And in California, the first state to adopt a network along its entire coastline, residents and visitors alike are exploring these fabulous ocean parks. Sunset magazine recently took note:

A new park system is being formed—but not where you think. It’s underwater. And in 100 years, this could be viewed the way the establishment of our national parks is seen today. In 2012, California will complete the nation’s first-ever statewide network of marine protected areas, which will preserve kelp forests, reefs, and tidepools in sanctuaries scattered down the coast like a string of pearls, maintaining them for divers and kayakers as well. Iconic spots like Cape Mendocino and the Point Reyes Headlands will get new safeguards, and docents are even being trained to give tours. Other states are catching on too—and we hope this means our entire coast will be protected in the years to come.

Download the Sunset Magazine PDF here.

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