|Marine Reserve designation to protect Channel Islands ecosystem
Action seen as boost to similar designation for Monterey Bay National Marine
In late October the California Fish & Game Commission voted to ban fishing
from 175 square miles of State-controlled waters around the five Channel Islands
off Santa Barbara. The Channel Islands have been designated as a National Park,
a National Marine Sanctuary, and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve because of
their awesome beauty and spectacular diversity of life. Yet before Fish and Games
landmark vote, less than one percent of the sanctuary was fully protected and
off-limits to fishing.
Marine reserves are seen as similar to game refuges on land. The Channel Island
Marine Reserve will provide refuge for many fish and wildlife species whose populations
have been declining dramatically, some by more than 90%. Giant sea bass, sheephead,
sharks, and rockfish are some of the most affected species. The landmark decision
will provide the greatest chance of survival for both the marine resources and
the industries dependent upon them.
This vote ensures that these designations actually will protect fish and
wildlife for future generations to enjoy. Were putting the sanctuary
back into the Sanctuary, said Greg Helms, Program Manager for The Ocean
A poll conducted by Edge Research in early 2002 indicates strong public support
(76 percent of California voters) for the creation of no-take marine reserves
in national sanctuaries.
Over the next two years, federal action by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration is expected to expand the protection to federal waters, resulting
in a network of 13 reserves covering 426 square miles. The Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary has established a network of marine reserves spanning over 150
square miles and marine reserves are expected to be established in the Monterey
Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Banks Sanctuaries in coming years.
Kaitilin Gaffney, California Central Coast Program Manager for the Ocean Conservancy,
remarked, It is time to make sure that the Monterey Bay Sanctuary contains
places of true refuge and protection for ocean life.