Re: Overfishing plays key role in declining kelp forest health

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Posted by Tom Kendrick on May 25, 2006 at 19:40:15:

In Reply to: Overfishing plays key role in declining kelp forest health posted by on May 25, 2006 at 18:50:18:

I was a commercial sea urchin diver for 22 years, 9 at the Channel Islands, the rest up here in northern California. I've watched the kelp beds go through their cycles. I was under the impression that the El Nino patterns of the early 80's had a huge effect on the beds. Whatever it was, that was the reason I left Santa Barbara - the kelp beds were seemingly gone, the urchins weren't eating, and therefore were of poor quality. In fact, I remember that at the time there was no kelp on the coastal beds from Gaviota all the way down past Rincon point - not one kelp blade. Before that, in the late 70's, you couldn't drive a boat through the coastal beds, they were that thick. The kelp harvesters were going gangbusters. Then, from 1985 through 1995, there wasn't a kelp harvester to be seen. I was just down in SB a few weeks ago - the coastal beds are back, the island beds are huge and healthy, the urchin diving is doing well, and I saw a kelp harvester unloading at the SB dock. My academic credentials are pretty weak (almost non-existent), but I've been out in those kelp beds for 30 years, and have over 8,000 hours diving in them. I would say you just can't talk about the health of the kelp beds without mentioning the naturally recurring patterns of global weather.

Tom Kendrick
Sebastopol, CA

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