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Signs of Hope

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MPA Update California’s new marine protected areas (MPAs) are still too new for anyone to make definitive statements about their conservation success. But MARE’s deepwater surveys are serving up signs of hope!

Counting Canaries

Working with our science partners at Cal State University Monterey Bay’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology, MARE recently completed a baseline assessment of the deep, hard to reach portions of the North Central Coast MPAs—one of California’s five new MPA regions.

We saw numerous signs of hope on the North Central Coast. Most notable were sightings of large numbers of juvenile canary rockfish. Canaries are one of six threatened fish that limit California fisheries. Protections for these fish mandate that they not be fished at all, and once a specified amount is accidentally snagged as by-catch, it stops fishing opportunities for all healthy populations.

If the MPAs work as envisioned, they will provide a refuge where these young canary rockfish can mature and, eventually, help replenish the species.

California’s MPA network amounts to one of the most extensive and pioneering marine conservation efforts in the world. When complete, it will span the full length of our 1,100 mile coastline, creating a network of over 120 underwater refuges and new hope that we can protect and restore irreplaceable, economically important marine resources.

MARE’s baseline surveys in the deepwater portions of these MPAs provide critical information for evaluating and adjusting the MPAs for maximum conservation benefit.

Want to learn more?
Detailed information about California’s MPA network is posted on the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
The OceanSpaces website provides information on ocean health in California, including information on MPA assessments. For information specific to the North Central Coast Baseline assessments, click here.
Information about canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) is detailed on the NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources website

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