"The term 'marine reserve' refers to an area in which no extractive use of any biological or mineral resource is allowed," said Stephen R. Palumbi, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University who authored the January report. "That means all commercial and recreational fishing, as well as oil and gas exploration, would be off limits."
Palumbi's report, Marine Reserves: A Tool for Ecosystem Management and Conservation, is the last in a series of scientific reports on America's oceans prepared for the Pew Oceans Commission a Virginia-based policy group chaired by Leon Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff. The report and other commission recommendations will be presented to the President, members of Congress, governors and local policymakers later this year.
In his report, Palumbi noted that marine ecosystems from Hawaii to Florida "are breaking down, giving way to invading organisms and losing important commercial species, and they are failing to replenish themselves at the same rate they are being damaged or exploited."
Among the major threats to healthy ocean ecosystems are overfishing, habitat alteration, pollution, runoff from land, aquaculture, invasive species, coastal development and climate change.
"Many of these threats go unnoticed because they are beneath the surface where casual eyes do not penetrate," Palumbi wrote.
For example, an area equivalent to the landmass of Brazil, Congo and India combined is trawled each year, causing massive disturbance to seafloor habitats. He also cited studies showing that most of the world's fisheries are at or above sustainable level, as commercial fishers harvest some 80 million metric tons of seafood annually. A fully
Contact: Mark Shwartz