|Deep sea coral off Cordell Bank, CA. Photo: NOAA|
Dear Ocean Friends,
Summer was a busy time for our team of scientists working to protect deep sea corals. The Marine Conservation Institute has been advocating for deep sea coral protection and an end to destructive fishing gear such as bottom trawling since the earliest days of our organization. We have had some great successes, but the deep ocean is only beginning to be explored, and most is poorly mapped and poorly protected.
Deep sea corals provide essential habitat for many species of fish. The loss of that habitat can have long-term impacts and lead to non-sustainable fisheries. We recently submitted to the Pacific Fishery Management Council a number of areas along the west coast of the USA where we propose the banning of bottom trawling. The selection of these areas is based on predictive modeling work done by Marine Conservation Institute marine biogeographer Dr. John Guinotte. At the same time, our Board member Professor Les Watling published an editorial on the need to permanently ban massively destructive trawling fishing in the waters of Europe. The editorial has been well received and was even mentioned by Richard Branson in his blog post, "Mission to Save the Ocean."
There is also compelling new science supporting the benefits of closing areas to fishing. Marine biologists studying reserves in South Africa showed that not only did fish populations improve after fishing was prohibited, but it did so without any harm to fishermen. The benefits of a healthier population in the reserve closed to fishing far outweighed the loss of this fishing ground. As evidence continues to accumulate there is little doubt that marine reserves can benefit local businesses. But many countries still act in predictable, short-sighted ways - focused on the fear of short term losses without regard for long term ocean health and economic opportunity. The Marine Conservation Institute makes sure our leaders hear of the benefits of marine protected areas (MPAs) and works to advance conservation around the globe.
One of our hallmark efforts at the Marine Conservation Institute is bringing MPA information to decision makers and the public. Launched in 2012, MPAtlas.org
is an online tool that provides users with access to the most current available information on marine protected areas. I encourage you to explore areas where you live or visit, provide us with feedback and sign up as a community editor to contribute your expertise.
We currently have an exciting opportunity to secure long-term funding for MPAtlas with a generous challenge grant from the Waitt Foundation. They will provide matching support for all donations made through November 30th, ensuring that this vital information is available to ocean conservation advocates, government agencies and decision makers who are tasked with the job of stewarding our oceans. We urgently need your support for our oceans and our efforts to ensure bountiful oceans for our future. Please consider making a donation to support MPAtlas today.
To learn more about our work, please visit our website. And to help us do this work, to save marine life for us and future generations, please click here.