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Marine Program expands protected areas around Californian Channel Islands

US - The National Marine Sanctuary Program has announced the expansion of the network of marine protected areas in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. In 2003, the network was established in the first three miles which are managed by the state of California.

The expansion out to six miles increases the total size of the network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 145 square miles, creating a MPA network of about 318 square miles. Administrative adjustments by the State of California are also expected this fall. This action by the Sanctuary will help better protect species like mako and blue sharks, sardines, anchovies, lobster, and rockfish that migrate between shallow and deep water seasonally.

"Expanding the areas of protection will help ensure that select areas of the breeding grounds and nurseries for lobster and rockfish and other species are free from the pressure of fishing and other extractive uses," said Greg Helms, program manager for Ocean Conservancy. "Successfully balancing the needs of the habitat and marine-life protection with recreational and commercial activities ensures that we can enjoy these treasures today and tomorrow."

In September 2006, the Department of Fish and Game released a review of the economic impacts of the marine protected areas showing that Channel Islands fishing remained strong after the new state protections were in place. In fact, the three top local fisheries, lobster, urchin, and squid saw increased landings in 2005 by 23, 9, and 31 percent, respectively. Modest reductions in other fisheries such as sea cucumber and crab were less than landing declines elsewhere in California for the same time period. The proportion of recreationally popular fish such as white seabass and rockfish caught at the islands versus elsewhere in California remained virtually unchanged. Scientists predict over time that the long-term benefits to ecological conditions may increase the productivity and resiliency of local fisheries. 

Source: BYM Marine Environment NewsM

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