Although covering only a small area of our oceans, no-take zones are thought to be vital to the recovery of biodiversity in areas that have experienced over-fishing and other harmful extraction practices. However, while fishing restrictions may benefit the ecosystem, such restrictions often negatively impact the livelihoods of fishermen.
To better understand the scientific and socioeconomic costs and benefits of implementing no-take zones, Southern California will begin monitoring their recently expanded network of no-fishing areas, thanks to a $4 million grant funded by California’s Ocean Protection Council.
Specifically, they plan to monitor the change in “marine habitat, species, fisheries, and recreation,” in and around these protected zones. This project will be instrumental in assessing the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act
, which was established in California in the late 90s.
Some of the monitoring projects to be conducted are listed here by Sign On San Diego:
•Remotely operated underwater vehicle surveys of deep-water habitats – James Lindholm,California State University, Monterey Bay and Dirk Rosen, Marine Applied Research & Exploration
• Scuba surveys of kelp and shallow reef ecosystems – Daniel Pondella, Occidental College and Jennifer Caselle, University of California, Santa Barbara
• Surveys of seabird ecology and habitat use – Dan Robinette and Jaime Jahncke, PRBO Conservation Science
• Scuba surveys of rocky reef ecosystems – Jan Freiwald and Gregor Hodgson, Reef Check California
• Baseline assessments of California spiny lobster populations, incorporating a collaborative fisheries approach – Kevin Hovel, San Diego State University; Ed Parnell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Doug Neilson, California Department of Fish and Game
This study represents a great step forward to improving our understanding of marine protected areas. By finding further proof that indicates no-take zones help the recovery of marine life, this method of protection will become more attractive as a means to revitalize additional regions that are falling under siege to harmful extraction practices.