Commission To Consider Reserves In Channel Islands

Environmental Defense Supports Balanced Solution To Protect Marine Wildlife

August 22, 2001
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The California Fish and Game Commission on Friday will consider a long-studied proposal for protecting some of the waters surrounding the Channel Islands, including closing limited areas to fishing.

Environmental Defense today announced its support for the Channel Islands marine reserve proposal, which represents a compromise solution that will minimize short-term economic impacts on the fishing industry and achieve real environmental protection while restoring depleted fisheries.

"California's unique marine wildlife is threatened by overfishing. A few species now teeter on the edge of extinction, even within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary," said Environmental Defense marine ecologist Dr. Rod Fujita. "Fully protected marine reserves will be the national parks of the sea, helping to preserve California's natural treasures for future generations. Studies show marine reserves greatly enhance fish and shellfish populations within their borders. Reserves may also enhance fish populations and fish catches outside their borders, helping to rebuild and sustain the troubled fishing industry."

The proposal would set aside about 25% of Channel Islands waters for protection. Currently, less than 1% of California state waters are protected from fishing impacts. The compromise was drafted by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary based on two years of negotiations by a working group of commercial and sport fishermen, scientists, environmental advocates, academics and others.

"The restoration of California's marine environment depends on strong protections," said Environmental Defense marine advocate Richard Charter. "The Channel Islands marine reserve network proposal will provide real environmental protection, but any further erosion of the current compromise will fail to guarantee the preservation of our unique marine treasures for future generations."

A public hearing on the marine reserves proposal will be held at the Santa Barbara Veteran's Memorial Building Auditorium, 112 West Cabrillo Blvd., in Santa Barbara at 11 am on Friday, August 24. The proposal can be viewed at www.cinms.nos.noaa.gov/cimpa2.html