A number of environmental groups and marine researchers have jumped on the marine protected area (MPA) band wagon as the latest fad in fish and ocean conservation, no matter what the science says or doesn´t say. They´ve been especially quick to push for these MPAs within our National Marine Sanctuaries, most of which were established in part to protect important fishing grounds for fishing and supported by fishermen for that purpose.
While establishing MPAs may give the enviros a measurable result that pleases funders, the fishing fleet is more interested in actual results in the real world i.e., will an MPA really result in more fish, or protection of an essential ecosystem, and do so with a minimal preemption of fishing grounds or disruption to fishing? As we have also seen, a number of members of Congress with horrendous environmental records on land (and in the air) appear more than willing to sacrifice commercial fishermen if it gets them a few more environmental brownie points. Thus the industry will need to be on guard that it is not sacrificed in the clamor to create massive MPAs.
In the dealing with the MPA issue, it will important to assure that funds are set aside for measuring socio-economic impacts on fishing-dependent communities resulting from any MPA establishment, along with good monitoring programs for any MPAs that are established. For PCFFA´s official Policy Statement on MPAs generally go to: www.pcffa.org/mpa3.htm.