Ocean Film Fest 2011: Can Networking California's Coastline Save Fishing Industries? (Video)


Image via YouTube video

Marine Protected Areas, or "hope spots" are not simply small areas set aside where wildlife has a fighting chance. Well, they are, but they're so much more. Within MPAs, species are given room to thrive, but that health and life overflows into the areas surrounding the hope spot and beyond. The importance of MPAs really shines through when they are large enough and close enough together to function as a network, with humans benefiting from the life that is regenerated and spills outside the zones, effectively saving suffering fisheries -- and where wildlife doesn't face such constant dangers as the stray nets that captured the sealions above. A Wave of Change by filmmaker Kip Evans demonstrates exactly how important these areas are -- where fish can grow up to 70% larger, have more offspring, and repopulate areas outside the MPAs. Check out the short documentary showing exactly how this happens, and how incredibly beautiful the areas can be.

The film's site points out how "marine scientist John Pearse and the Ocean Conservancy's Kaitliin Gaffney, help highlight the need for MPA's and why they are vital to California's future."

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation is working to help these activists and others connect the MPAs that have been created thus far, and generate more in important ecosystems, such as where fish spawn, nurseries for specific species, or habitats that promote biodiversity like kelp forests.

Over time, this network of MPAs helps boost fishing industries. Just such a network was created around California's Channel Islands and in a few short years, the commercial and sport fishing industries in the area have seen an improvement with catches going up. Expanding the concept could mean saving many more struggling fishing industries.

According to MBSF, "California is currently engaged in an important effort to establish a system of MPAs- similar to national parks, forests, and wilderness areas on land - to protect and restore ocean habitats and increase the health, productivity and resilience of ocean ecosystems... The network is being designed sequentially in four coastal sections of the state and San Francisco bay. Starting with the central coast region, in 2007, sixty (60) marine and estuarine protected areas have been designated from Point Conception in the south to Point Arena in the north as part of the MLPA."


Image via YouTube video

The foundation has launched a resource website for California MPAs, where tools and resources are available for those who are working to educate others about MPAs.

The most important concept in the video seems to be that MPAs are not an environtmentalist-versus-fishermen situation -- instead they're a solution so that fishermen can actually increase the quality and quantity of the seafood they catch, all while maintaining the balance of ecosystems.


Image via YouTube video

Hopefully a growing network of coastline along California and beyond can help illustrate this to other coastal communities, and we can see progress worldwide.

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Tags: Animals | Conservation | Oceans