It is no secret that our ocean is in trouble; 90% of the big fish are missing, ½ of our coral reefs have disappeared and large oxygen dead zones are appearing around the globe. We are facing a loss of not only an amazing natural feature on our earth, but the ocean is crucial to human health. More than a billion people around the world get their primary source of protein from the ocean. When fisheries collapse, people and local communities are hurt from nutritional losses and economic hardships. Over the past few years, new hope is being secured for our oceans as marine protected areas, or underwater parks, are being established as safe havens for our future.
Around the globe, from kelp forests to coral reefs, underwater parks are showing signs of success. While marine protected areas management is still in its infancy, our understanding of how the ocean rebounds is growing rapidly. Many factors influence how recovery in a particular location occurs. Of course the level of protection offered is a huge factor; partial protection offers less ecological benefits than full protection. In all cases, recovery takes time. Many species take years to reach maturity and reproduce, hence the longer that a protected area has been in effect, the benefits of protection increase. California’s marine protected areas are relatively young, but positive benefits are already being detected. Below are success stories from MPAs around the world, which provide exciting evidence of what Californians can look forward to.