For generations we have been taking fish out of the ocean at a rate faster than they can reproduce. The problem is that there are fewer and fewer fish to meet an ever-increasing demand. The solution is simply to take less so that we can continue eating fish for a longer time.
Opponents of conservation, however, argue that regulating fishing will destroy jobs and hurt the economy–but they are wrong, and there are real-world examples that prove this. A scientific study published today by the Public Library of Science shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.
Cabo Pulmo National Park in Baja California, Mexico, was protected in 1995 to safeguard the largest coral community in the Gulf of California. When I dove there for the first time in 1999, I thought the corals were very nice, but there were not so many fishes, and I didn’t think the place was extraordinary. Together with Octavio Aburto and other Mexican colleagues we dove at many sites in the gulf, in a region spanning over 1,000 km. Cabo Pulmo was just like most other places I’d seen in the Gulf of California.
But the Cabo Pulmo villagers wanted more. They decided that the waters in front of their settlement were going to be a no-take marine reserve – fishing was banned with the hopes of bringing the fish back. They had a vision, and they succeeded in a way that exceeded all expectations, including mine.
In 2009 we went back to Cabo Pulmo to monitor the fish populations. We jumped in the water, expecting fishes to be more abundant after 10 years of protection. But we could not believe what we saw–thousands upon thousands of large fishes such as snappers, groupers, trevally, and manta rays. They were so abundant that we could not see each other if we were fifteen meters apart. We saw more sharks in one dive at Cabo Pulmo than in 10 years of diving throughout the Gulf of California!
Our research indicated that the fish biomass increased by 460% at Cabo Pulmo–to a level similar to remote pristine coral reefs that have never been fished. In contrast, all other sites in the Gulf of California that we revisited in 2009 were as degraded as ten years earlier. This shows that it is possible to bring back the former richness of the ocean that man has obliterated, but that without our dedication, the degradation will continue.
It seems like a win-win to me! The question is: how can we have more of these?
The question isn’t new – nor is the solution. Quick and responsible solution? Offer a collaborative between enviros and fishing fleets. A certain percentage of the time – especially if the fishing is based in local communities rather than international brigands – that collaborative solution is possible and succeeds.
No collaboration? That’s what we have governments for.
Wait till his big brother shows up and saves his butt!
Hundreds of poor Hindu villagers in eastern India have refused to hand over a rare turtle to authorities, saying it is an incarnation of God.
Villagers chanting hymns and carrying garlands, bowls of rice and fruits are pouring in from remote villages to a temple in Kendrapara, a coastal district in eastern Orissa state.
Policemen have struggled to control the gathering and have failed to persuade the villagers to give up the sea turtle…
The turtle is protected in India and anyone found keeping one without permission can be jailed for a year or more and fined.
But adamant villagers have refused to give up the reptile, saying the turtle bears holy symbols on its back and is an incarnation of Lord Jagannath, a popular Hindu deity.
“Lord Jagannath has visited our village in the form of a turtle. We will not allow anybody to take the turtle away,” said Ramesh Mishra, a priest of the temple.
If the sum of their attention finally kills the poor turtle, they’ll swear he’s gone on to a better life.
U.S. Marines and an Afghan policeman
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
United States Marines moved into villages in Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan on Friday, meeting little resistance as they tried to win over local chiefs on the second day of the biggest American military operation here since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.
One Marine was killed and several were wounded Thursday, when 4,000 Marines launched the operation in Helmand Province, a remote area at the center of the country’s opium cultivation, which helps finance the insurgency. So far, however, there has been little resistance from the Taliban, according to Capt. Bill Pelletier, a military spokesman…
The aim of the operation in Helmand is not simply to kill Taliban fighters but to win over the local population, Captain Pelletier said — a difficult task in a region where foreigners are viewed with suspicion.
Also members of the wrong clan all the way out to 2nd cousins.