UC Davis researchers were central to the effort leading to President Clinton's order today directing federal agencies to establish a comprehensive national system of marine protected areas.
Marine protected areas are areas of the ocean and coast that are protected from some or all human activities to conserve biodiversity, sustain fisheries, preserve cultural and recreational resources, and to provide valuable natural laboratories for scientific research. Currently, less than one one-thousandth of U.S. marine waters are fully protected from harm.
One of the key recommendations that led to the president's order came from a May workshop held under the auspices of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute and The Cousteau Society. At that workshop, 15 leading social and natural scientists from around the world wrote a letter to the White House calling for the creation of a comprehensive national system of protected marine areas and recommending criteria for the design and management of the system.
One of those scientists was Louis Botsford, a UC Davis professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology and an authority on ecological modeling.
"Lou is a world-class ecological modeler. He builds mathematical models of natural systems and, by making certain assumptions, he tests what would happen if we did certain things," said Dr. Elliott A. Norse, president of Marine Conservation Biology Institute, a nonprofit scientific and conservation organization based in Redmond, Wash.
"This is the kind of thing that Lou can do: He can model what would be the effect of lots of little marine reserves as opposed to a small number of large ones. Which would be more effective at protecting the organisms inside them and which would be more effective in producing surplus organisms for fisherman to catch? That's the sort of question that Lou is brilliantly equipped to address," Norse said.