State’s Increased Efforts To Prevent Ocean Fishing Violations

Poaching photo by CDFW

Good story in the Los Angeles Times today focusing on California’s increased effort to prevent fishing violations like this one in the wide-open Pacific.

Here’s Times reporter Joshua Emerson Smith with some details:

California’s continued push to police its network of underwater state parks comes as government officials and scientific leaders from around the world gathered inWashington, D.C., last week for a conference on a wide range of marine issues, including climate change, pollution and restoring diversity of sea life.  

Initially spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014, the Our Ocean conference has since drawn commitments to expand or form new preservation zones in sensitive ocean habitats from more than a dozen countries, including Morocco, Thailand and Canada, as well as the European Union and the United Kingdom. Most recently, the Obama administration expanded the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii — now the world’s largest marine protected area.  

Despite resistance from fishing industries, governments have increasingly pushed for MPAs in response to growing threats of widespread extinction of various fish and other marine species. A recent study published in Science magazine found that most threatened are larger marine species, such as tuna, sharks and sea turtles. 

Getting fishermen and others to respect MPAs has been an ongoing controversy.

“Monitoring and enforcement of marine protected areas around the world is extremely uneven,” said Mike Gravitz, director of policy and legislation for the Marine Conservation Institute. “It’s often the case the acronym MPA stands for marine poaching area.”

Here’s another interesting factoid in the story:

Expanded in 2012, California’s network of MPAs covers about 16% of coastal waters, or roughly 5,200 square miles. In San Diego County, there are 11 protected areas. Restrictions there are as varied as prohibitions on any removal of marine life to recreational take designated fish species, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tunas. The idea is to create protected spawning grounds that help marine life rebound and eventually repopulate the fishable areas.  

It shows you what kind of daunting task it is to patrol the massive coastal area off California.