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Why Marine Protected Areas?
by David Gurney
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011 8:19 AM
In California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) "Initiative," the president of the Western States Petroleum Association sat as a top ranking board member throughout the statewide undertaking. Real estate and marina developers, corporate aquariums, contracted monitoring and scientific services, universities and state agencies - all stood in line for their share of the ocean resource pie, that the MLPAI's new closed areas would provide them, once enacted.

see: http://noyonews.net

Why Marine Protected Areas?

by David Gurney

There has been a lot of research and controversy on the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPA's) as the solution to the ocean's survival.

Some zealously claim it as the answer and salvation for the ocean. The idea has gained traction with the support of universities interested in grants to study and monitor newly closed areas, and high powered NGO's with their own dubious and shielded interests in ocean resources.

Some view MPAs as a piecemeal and simplistic solution to the complex problems facing ocean ecosystems and coastal communities. They say that sustainable and spiritually balanced human interaction with the marine environment is actually beneficial, to both the ocean and to humans. This includes Native American peoples, who have interacted as participants in the coastal marine environment since time immemorial.

The movement for Marine Protected Areas has in some cases been co-opted and corrupted by a gamut of special interest groups who have competing and conflicting interests with fisherfolk. These special interests include oil and gas drilling, wind and wave energy extraction, fish farming and aquaculture, scientific and university research and monitoring, ocean mining, military testing and training, and others. Nothing was stipulated in California's MPA's to regulate these activities, despite the objections of some coastal residents.

In California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) "Initiative," the president of the Western States Petroleum Association sat as a top ranking board member throughout the statewide undertaking. Real estate and marina developers, corporate aquariums, contracted monitoring and scientific services, universities and state agencies - all stood in line for their share of the ocean resource pie, that the MLPAI's new closed areas would provide them, once enacted.

Due to the private funding of the "Initiative," through shielded billionaire sponsorship, many warned of the privatization of public resources, by special interests who funded the MLPA legislative process in the first place. Opportunities by special interests to promote their own interests, at the expense of scapegoated and already tightly regulated commercial and recreational fisheries, were ignored by a process conducted with absolutely no government oversight, regulation, or accountability. The MLPAI violated state and federal laws with impunity.

Meanwhile, the well meaning conservationists and environmentalists who supported the MLPA were often misinformed about current regulation, and convinced themselves to shut down all access, on a coast that is much of the time already completely shut down to fishing activity.

In the past, large scale commercial drag trawling destroyed the ocean bottom and whole ecosystems by rapacious over fishing, but this previously unregulated and destructive practice demonized all interests in sustainable fisheries management. Drag fishing is used to promote marine protected areas even when these areas will do nothing to regulate a practice that occurs outside areas proposed to be closed. Drag fishing has been used to demonize all food gathering, including seaweed harvesting and sustainable hook-and-line fisheries.

Continued and coming up….Sylvia Earle and MPA's

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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Beeline
Tuesday Nov 1st, 2011 12:20 PM
Habitat protection is an old, simple principle. It works if the protection is real and enforceable. During the last 30 years the republican/conservative side has sought to reduce and even eliminate regulation/protection in the environment. It should be no surprise that fish and wildlife populations have fallen to new lows while corporate profits went to new highs.

I think we need a real attitude check. If the people who make policy and laws were more caring about the earth and dropped the seemingly unending litany of 'damn the people who do like the earth', then we might actually survive a while longer.

I noticed that last year the net primary productivity for the pacific ocean was down about 40%. That should send chills through the spines in congress (if there are any left).