MPAs: Telling a Great Fish Story in France

underwater parks marine protected areas MPAs MPA scuba dive ocean fish diving

Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Director of Coastal Resources, heads to France to share the good news about our state’s blossoming Marine Protected Areas.

If you’ve been lucky enough to go for a dive, surf, or kayak at the Channel Islands, it’s hard not to be captivated by the cathedral kelp forests, large fish cruising the reef, and the occasional harbor seal’s shy game of peek-a-boo.

Sea Lion checking out diver in Santa Barbara Island's Marine Protected Area MPAThese Islands, along with special places throughout the entire California coast, enjoy state protections that allow the marine wildlife inside to thrive. Like underwater parks, the marine protected areas (MPAs for short) here act as safe havens for the garibaldi, black seabass, and giant kelp forests that call Southern California’s coastline home. And, the good news is that globally, MPAs are on the rise. There are more than 6,000 MPAs worldwide, yet less than 2% of our oceans is protected.

Next week, ocean scientists, policymakers, leaders, and conservation professionals will be convening in France to share ideas about how to foster MPA effectiveness around the world at the 2013 International Marine Protected Areas Congress.  And Heal the Bay’s story will be among those in the fold. As one of the prime  players in the establishment of MPAs in the Golden State, we will be part of  a California delegation heading to Marseilles to spread the good news.

We will be sharing stories about California’s MPAs and showcasing the Marine Life Protection Act as a model for other nations that want to build effective community engagement and science-based planning in their MPA development. We’ll also bring back MPA stories from around the world that may enhance MPA stewardship on our coast.

Next time you visit a California MPA to enjoy the majestic kelp forest, just think that at the same time someone else might be enjoying the corals along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, whale sharks in Mozambique, or diving iguanas in the Galapagos.

Please look for our daily blog posts, photos and videos from the conference:

Bon Voyage!