When you see a pod of dolphins swimming off the Santa Monica Pier, or take a whale watching trip out of the South Bay, you witness the bounty of our local oceans first-hand. Our beaches are a huge draw, and millions of people come to visit them every year. Southern California’s culture and economy revolve around the ocean.
Sadly, overfishing, trash in our oceans, some industry, overdevelopment, and other issues have contributed to a dramatic decline in fish populations. Regulations limiting the quantity and size of specific fish taken have had limited success. By protecting an entire ecosystem in no-fishing zones or limited fishing zones, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) allow all the animals within that area to repopulate.
Marine Protected Areas are divided into:
State Marine Parks, in which commercial fishing is not allowed, but recreational fishing is
State Marine Conservation Areas, in which both commercial and recreational fishing are allowed in limited amounts
Marine Reserves, in which no fishing or collecting of any kind is allowed
Currently 13% of land on earth is protected, but less than 0.5% of the oceans are protected. As a valuable tool for both ecosystem protection and fisheries management, Marine Protected Areas can help replenish fish populations. Science proves that Marine Protected Areas work. Established Marine Protected Areas in California’s Channel Islands, Florida, New Zealand and over 50 other countries around the world have led to larger and more abundant fish and other marine life.
You can help support Marine Protected Areas by joining Heal the Bay's new MPA Watch Program. This group of volunteers monitors the use of coastal and ocean MPAs, providing a priceless look at how people are using these new conservation areas. Learn more about MPA Watch.