How to fish a protected ocean

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In 2003, California established thirteen Marine Protected Areas around the Channel Islands. Referred to as “MPAs,” they were designed to study and restore marine life. But, restoring meant banning all commercial fishing, or “fisheries,” from operating within the protected areas.

Scientists have gradually been collecting data about the impact of these MPAs. Last week, experts with UCSB’s Marine Science Institute released a comprehensive 10-year study.

By all accounts, the MPAs appear to be working. The report says the fish are healthier and exist in larger quantities, both inside and outside of the MPAs.

But, how does all this affect a local fishing industry that has less room to operate? And what does it mean moving forward?

KCRW’s Jonathan Basitan spoke with Chris Voss, President of the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara and Dr. Jennifer Caselle with the Marine Life Institute, who was the lead author on the new study.


“Every single well regulated fishery is a marine monitoring tool. We need to unite our efforts and combine our analysis with a well managed fishery.”

– Chris Voss, Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara

“These closed areas provide insurance against dramatic environmental changes, which even the best designed fisheries management plan can often not respond to.”

– Dr. Jennifer Caselle, UCSB’s Marine Life Institute