August 24, 2011
Marine protected areas have emerged as an essential tool in the protection of the world's ocean from the threats of overfishing, pollution, climate change, and destruction of native habitat. Here in California and around the world, these special ocean areas are working to conserve our vulnerable ocean ecosystems and threatened marine life. While MPAs occur worldwide, the process for creating them and the level of community support can vary greatly.
Earlier this year, the San Francisco Ocean FIlm Festival hosted a panel discussion featuring scientists, conservationists, and fishermen from both Mexico and California. The objective was to discuss similarities, differences, and success stories in the establishment of and support for MPAs in both countries. As discussions between the countries developed, it became clear that while California had a very comprehensive, sometimes contentious, public process to create an MPA network, Mexico did it largely through grassroots support of the community because it was, as one Mexican guest put it, "simply what needed to be done".
Recently, scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, examined MPAs in Mexico and have published some amazing results! Within a decade after establishment, the Cabo Pulmo National Park (CBNP) saw a 463% increase in total fish biomass, the largest measured increase in an MPA to date! This translates to a fish biomass that is 5.4 times greater within CBNP than in other open access areas.
While there are many factors that impact changes in the marine ecosystem, the Mexican experience at Cabo Pulmo National Park offers compelling evidence that MPAs work.
To review the entire Scripps Institute study, click here.
Danielle ~ on behalf of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation
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