Channel Island report 15Nov08

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Posted by Don Robarge on November 19, 2008 at 08:12:57:

In Reply to: No Help? posted by Divebum Don on November 19, 2008 at 08:05:11:


Report examines protected areas around Channel Islands Local panel sees 5-year report that will help state set policy

By Zeke Barlow
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Closing selected areas to fishing around the Channel Islands five years ago has shown some positive preliminary results, with bigger fish being found in the marine protected areas, officials reported Friday.

"Is this the end-all question to whether marine protected areas work? No, but it does show some positive trends," California Department of Fish and Game biologist John Ugoretz said Friday in a five-year report on the reserves.

"The critical thing is that even after five years, we are starting to see the types of changes that scientists expected in terms of seeing more and bigger fish inside the marine protected areas."

Ugoretz gave a presentation to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council in Ventura. He outlined a more formal presentation that he'll give next month to the Fish and Game Commission on how the marine reserves have fared so far.

Earlier this year, a university's worth of scientists presented their findings on the reserves. They showed that the fish targeted by fishermen are now bigger and more plentiful inside the protected pockets, and that there is more diversity inside the reserves.

The 10 patches deemed off-limits to fishing represent about 20 percent of the fishing grounds off the islands.

The results seen in those protected areas since they were established in 2003 give biologists a rare opportunity to compare a network of reserves to other isolated patches around the state, Ugoretz said.

The Fish and Game Commission will likely look at how the reserve areas have done as they begin to work on a larger system of marine protected areas around Southern California in the coming year.

Ugoretz said part of the upcoming report will look at the effects on commercial and recreational fishermen since the reserves were established. He said that while some fisheries such as commercial rockfish were hurt, it's uncertain if that can be directly attributed to the reserves.

Other regulations, such as the depth at which they can be fished, also played a factor.

David Bacon, who runs a recreational fishing boat out of Santa Barbara, said five years ago he was told he'd see harm and benefits from the reserves.

So far, he said, he's only seen the harm.

"Marine protected areas are a popular fishery management method and one that is damaging to recreational fishing and the industries that surround them, and one that I believe is not necessary for successful fishery management," he said.

One of the biggest problems he saw was the public's perception of the reserves. Too many people erroneously think that all the good fishing on the islands is closed off, which hurts his business, he said.

Jim Marshall, a commercial abalone fisherman out of Santa Barbara, also said he hasn't seen the benefit of the closures. But that doesn't mean he doesn't agree with them.

The monitoring that goes along with the marine protected areas is crucial to long-term management of the fishery, he said.

"That's how we got into this crisis in the first place we didn't have any monitoring," he said.

But he hopes the reserves will work in the long run.

"I'm a fisherman," he said, "so I'm always hopeful for better days."
E.W. Scripps Co.
2008 Ventura County Star

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