You Can Have Your Fish and Eat Them Too

Today we’re featuring a blog from National Geographic Society’s ocean intiative blog, Ocean Views

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By: Enric Sala

Ninety
percent of the large predators in the ocean are gone
and their populations
have collapsed, and some scientific studies suggest that most fisheries
worldwide will collapse before 2050.

The reason for this is that we have taken
too many fish out of the sea
, and we keep taking more before the remaining
populations are able to reproduce. It’s like constantly withdrawing from a
checking account without ever putting any money in. Guess what will happen to
our fish – or our finances. Pretty soon, they’ll simply run out.

Warning sign.png

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Mel
and his friends discover the myriad benefits of marine reserves.


How to Fix It

But there are alternatives that have proven successful. One of them is to
create no-take marine
reserves
, areas in the ocean set aside without fishing to allow marine life
to recover. Watch the video where Mel, the “very weird” fish, will
show you what marine reserves can do, and why we need many more.



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Marine reserves are like savings accounts, with
a principal we don’t touch, but which produce compound interest we can enjoy.
Fish abundance increases spectacularly within these reserves – 450% on average
in less than a decade. Now try to think of any financial stock with that
performance.

In addition, because there are so many fish inside these reserves, some
of them spread beyond the boundaries of the reserves
, into areas where they
can be caught by the local fishers. In places like Kenya or the Solomon
Islands, fisher income has doubled in areas next to well-enforced marine
reserves. Many reserves have also attracted flocks of tourists who want to see
a healthy marine environment full of large fish, helping to create jobs in
tourism that bring up to 40 times more income to the local communities than
fishing.

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Biomass tends to
increase 450% in a marine reserve in less than a decade.
 
For both fish and fishermen then, marine reserves are a win-win, but presently
less than 1% of the ocean is fully protected. Scientific studies suggest that
we need at least 20% of the ocean protected in order to replenish the natural
populations to a sustainable level for continued human use.

Please share Mel’s cartoon with your friends, family, colleagues, and
strangers. Let’s give Mel a voice, so that more of us understand that we need
those savings accounts in the ocean.

And remember, like in a bank account, the larger the principal, the larger the
interest we can enjoy.

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Ocean Views brings new and
experienced voices together to discuss the threats facing our ocean and to
celebrate successes. It is hosted by Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence with
National Geographic.

Ocean Views is part of National Geographic Society’s ocean initiative,
which supports efforts to restore the health and productivity of the ocean,
with a particular focus on marine reserves, healthy fisheries, and raising
awareness to the importance of a healthy ocean. 



For more on marine reserves, learn about
the
ocean miracle in the Gulf of California, or see how marine reserves boost nearby fishing
grounds
.


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