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Two Sides Unite for a Healthier Pacific Ocean

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Friday, December 28, 2012   

Both sides may not always agree, but California fishermen and ocean scientists are working together for a healthier Pacific Ocean. Since 2007, the two groups have been monitoring the state's new Marine Protected Areas to see if the idea works.

Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo professor Dean Wendt says the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program combines the experience and expertise of both scientists and the local fishing community with one common goal.

"We want to have productive ecosystems that can be utilized as a food source, as a source of recreation, and that exist for the inherent value of the ecosystem."

In the Central Coast Marine Protected Areas, scientists, charter-boat skippers and hundreds of recreational anglers have worked together, using standardized methods to catch, tag, and release thousands of fish - to provide baseline data about the fish population for four regional MPAs. Statewide, 500 volunteer anglers and skippers in four ports have caught and released 30,000 fish since the program began in 2007.

Recreational fisherman Melvin de la Motte is among those collecting data for the program. He's not convinced the Marine Protected Areas are beneficial, but says it's important he and other fishermen participate.

"Because we still believe there is no beneficial effect of the marine reserves, and so we have to have the science. So, we cooperate in making sure the monitoring goes forward because it's left to be proven."

Information that's collected is available at OceanSpaces.org. The results from all baseline monitoring projects in the Central Coast region will be released in late February at a public symposium in Monterey.


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