Re: Re: Overfishing plays key role in declining kelp forest health

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Posted by Dr. Bill Bushing on May 26, 2006 at 18:48:02:

In Reply to: Re: Overfishing plays key role in declining kelp forest health posted by Tom Kendrick on May 25, 2006 at 19:40:15:

Tom, yours is a much more reasonable and reasoned reply compared to the one I just responded to.

There is absolutely no question that El Nino events significantly impact kelp forest health and that of the critters that depend on them. They are definitely an impact that must be considered. However, they tend to last 1-2 years with the kelp beds in most areas (although not necessarily Santa Barbara) responding with healthy growth once the waters cool. The kelp in the Santa Barbara area often anchored to worm tubes (Diapatra I believe) rather than rock, and these kelp beds had trouble recovering.

I'm not well versed on the effects of urchin harvesting in our region. Given the outbreaks of some species, probably a result of overfishing sheephead and other predators, controlled urchin harvesting may actually help kelp forest health by removing the excess urchins that are no longer eaten by sheepheads.

I think this points back to the original findings of this study. By overfishing top predators like sheephead, we have tilted the balance in many kelp forests. In the protected areas of Catalina where sheephead still remain in healthy numbers, we don't see the outbreaks of urchins found in other areas.

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