Monday, May 04, 2009

Channel Islands MPAs after 5 years

Results Show Positive Ecological Effects of Reserves. That's the headline of a new study released by the California Dept. of Fish and Game.

Wow, who's surprised? If you stop fishing in an area, then you get more fish and bigger fish. And that makes ocean ecosystems more healthy.

Quoting the report:

Many species of fish and invertebrates targeted by fishing outside reserves are bigger and more abundant inside no-take reserves, while non-targeted species’ abundances are essentially equal. Marine reserves have greater biodiversity and greater fish biomass than fished areas nearby. Studies of fish movement suggest that even wide-ranging species can benefit from the Channel Islands reserves and that some individuals move from reserves to fished areas. These results show that the Channel Islands reserves and other protected areas may contribute to the goals of protecting and promoting healthy ecosystems.

How about the warnings of doom from fishermen, about their expectations of devastating socioeconomic effects? Especially from recreational fishermen?

The number of boats seen at the Channel Islands has stayed approximately the same, but the boats go to different places. Fishing boats no longer go to the now-protected areas, while more sailboats are observed in those areas. Since MPAs were established, some commercial fisheries (rock crab, spiny lobster, market squid, and red urchin) have grown in value at the Channel Islands, while others (sea cucumber, California sheephead, and rockfish) have declined. Many of these changes also occurred throughout southern California, suggesting that the causes are due to factors other than MPAs. Detailed studies of the lobster fishery suggest some changes in number of fishermen and catch may be linked to the MPAs. The number of party boat trips for recreational fishing has remained fairly constant since MPAs were established.

Note that final line...The number of party boat trips for recreational fishing has remained fairly constant since MPAs were established. All that fuss for nothing. What a shame.


Brett said...

My question would be…do these conclusions all apply to the north coast of California, where MPA’s are next in line? Up on the north coast (and Oregon), we don’t have near the recreational impact on our oceans as in the south (LA is the largest city in the US…not to mention San Diego). Both population and weather are contributors to this (weather being a HUGE contributor…most not realizing how large of a factor this is).
The DFG’s report states that the boats frequenting the MPA’s have gone from fishing boats to sailboats, implying an economic push…why the increase in sailboats? Better diving opportunities? More anchorage room? Not the traffic? None of this applies to the north coast. MPA's on the northcoast are not going to suddenly see this influx of sailboats.
My concern is that the fishing industry plays a much more significant role (to put it lightly) to the economy on the north coast as it does in So Cal. I understand that people don’t like to hear the economic argument, but we’re talking about potentially limiting an incredibly sustainable and economic staple of the north coast community (dungeness crab), and other fisheries that have already been extremely restricted the last few years (black rockfish for one). Please don’t be premature and throw the baby out with the bath water. These are the fisheries we are supposed to be supporting. If the dungeness crab fishery is unnecessarily limited, there will be an economic loss.

Mark Powell said...

Brett, you're missing the point. Fishing has not suffered the dire consequence predicted by fishermen during the MPA debates.

Josie "Boracay beach resort" Kent said...

As long as the MPAs doesn't hurt anybody, everything's going to be okay.

Unknown said...

What we are seeing is the "shift of effort" associated with the creation of MPA's.

What is also not mentioned is the current round of the MLPAI is taking place in Southern California from Pt. Conception to the Mexico border.

With this piece of coastline still open, at this time, the shift of effort from the Channel Islands has had a place to go. I dare say, there will be a profound change in sentiment and socioeconomic impacts when the South Coast Study Region is implemented.

Also, fishing boats don't change into sailboats. Nothing restricted sailboats before MPA's and the associated shift has nothing to do with the creation of MPA's.

Species diversity, abundance and size and age structure may be the same or increasing inside of the MPA but the impacts outside of the MPA's cancels any positive effect of the MPA. This is the problem of dividing the intact and complete ecosystem. No balance, and a total dependance on MPA's for recruitment.