Friday, February 8, 2013

Proof of conservation in action


Here at The Earth Story we've brought you several stories on countries attempting to conserve their marine environments by introducing marine reserves, or marine protection areas. Largely these moves have been supported by the masses, but there have been some who are concerned that introducing wide spread conservation areas will have a detrimental affect on the economy and will not really help matters as conservation is not a local issue, rather a global one, and feel there is no point in protecting an area if 100kms down the coast there is overfishing and pollution.

However, there is good news! A report by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) has found that in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, located in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, everyone has benefited from conservation efforts and "no-take" zones.

The sanctuary zone, implemented in 2001, is 151 nautical square miles. A NOAA report “An Integrated Biogeographic Assessment of Reef Fish Populations and Fisheries in Dry Tortugas: Effects of No-take Reserves” (found here: http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreef/TortugasAssessmentReport_final.pdf) is the first of its kind to evaluate the effect marine reserves will have on the lives of people who rely on the area for a living, and what the effect has been the living organisms also.

The report had several findings, but with the key findings being:

1) Overfished species such as black and red grouper, yellowtail and mutton snapper increased in presence, abundance and size inside the reserve and throughout the region;

2) Annual gatherings of spawning mutton snapper, once thought to be wiped out from overfishing, began to reform inside the Reserve;

3) Commercial catches of reef fish in the region increased, and continue to do so.
Regional commercial or recreational fishers experienced no financial losses.

The results are fantastic news, as they prove that by implementing measures to protect our natural environment, we can benefit economically; perhaps those in charge of special marine environments elsewhere in the world should take note, and act before it is to late to protect anything.


http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/zones/ers/tortugas.html

http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130204_tortugas.html

-Image NOAA

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