No-fish Zones Gain Support
Aquarium works to change state and federal policy.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has begun thinking outside the tank.
The advocacy arm of the aquarium, the Center for the Future of the Oceans, is taking its first swing at influencing major policy change by promoting the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) off the California coast.
In March, the governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force will meet to discuss the three proposed MPAs, with varied levels of protection. The group will select one, and forward its choice to the state Department of Fish and Game, which is expected to finalize the new system of marine protected areas by the end of the year.
In June 2004, the Aquarium’s Board founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans to champion ocean-related issues. A new report outlines the center’s mission and a four-point plan of action for 2006.
“The mission of the aquarium has been to inspire conservation,” says the aquarium’s Ken Peterson. “The mission of the center is to inspire action for the conservation of the oceans.”
Peterson says the center’s top priority is its involvement in the creation of MPAs. The center supports a plan that would provide 218 square miles of protected areas, including 18 no-take zones, three parks and 13 conservation areas.
The center is also committed to affecting federal ocean policy, Peterson says. “Four of our trustees are on the Pew Oceans Commission,” he says. “We’re working to enact national ocean policy reform to better protect what’s out there.”
This includes expanding the Seafood Watch program—a guide that recommends which seafood to buy or to avoid.
The center is also working with the state and federal governments to strengthen policies that conserve and restore threatened marine wildlife, including the southern sea otter, sharks, tunas and sea turtles.