Scientific theory of marine reserves to be released

Our findings show abundant evidence that marine communities respond quickly and strongly to reserve establishment. -- Robert Warner professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

The science of marine reserves -- protected areas of the ocean -- takes a major leap forward today with the release of findings by a prominent international group of scientists that marine reserves can be highly successful in preserving and increasing ocean life.

The group, working together since 1997 to analyze information from all over the world, was organized through the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a federally-funded think tank on questions of ecology, based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Today the group presented this report -- the first large scale synthesis of marine reserve studies -- at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco. They will also present a new computer-based tool for designing marine reserves and release a consensus statement signed by 150 of the worlds leading scientists.

The findings represent the first large-scale synthesis of ecological data on this issue, and have really changed the way we look at marine reserves, said Steven D. Gaines, a member of the NCEAS group and director of the Marine Science Institute at UC, Santa Barbara.

NCEAS happens to be located near a protected ocean area, the National Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary (www.cinms.nos.noaa.gov), which is attracting national attention, as a variety of groups -- from fishing interests to environmental groups, and local and national government entities -- debate the future of the area.

The NCEAS team of scientists discussed the study of marine reserves at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science national meeting in San Francisco. At the symposium (and subsequent 12:30 p.m. press conference), the sc

Contact: Gail Brown
University of California - Santa Barbara

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