What happens when you don’t include all Ocean users when creating a state wide Marine Protected Area? Chaos insues! At least that what some Ocean Users are saying wen ton during the decade long process to created a network of Marine Protected Areas (NMPA) for Southern California, USA. First nations groups are speaking up to the media about their anger over the process and how their needs were not included in the NMPA.
In a previous post that I wrote, I called for a call of action for YOU to demand a Marine Protected Area from your government for special areas in your country. Californians, who are quite environmentally aware, spoke up and demanded the same thing a long time ago. for the past decade, scientists, policy makers, environmental groups, industry and other Ocean users got together to design and implement a network of MPAs (Marine Protected Areas). Multiple groups are included in the process to ensure all needs are met.
Why Do We Care About the Ocean Users
The Ocean users are probably the ones causing all of the destruction to the Oceans in the first place, right??? WRONG!. There are some Ocean Users that cause destructions; however, many users do not harm the Ocean at all, but all users do not like to be told what to do and where they can and cannot go, even if it will help them in the long run. For instance, an MPA will help fishermen in the long run as it protects areas where the larger fish, who are the better spawners, are found from being fished. It sucks for the short-term (5-8 years) as fishermen can’t catch the large fish, which will get them a higher price; however, the long-term benefits will outlast the short-term disadvantage as there will be more larger fish to catch for decades to come.
Yet, we live in a society that does not plan for the long-term, so it is easy to see how fishermen (and other Ocean Users) do not want to feel the pain of catching smaller fish now for better fish later. Most fishermen would probably go bankrupt in the meantime. But if people keep using the Ocean like we do today, there won’t be much of an Ocean to enjoy and sustain our way of life (Okay, I may have exaggerated a bit, but you get the idea!).
So creating an NMPA will not completely satisfy everyone. In fact, you will probably piss off everyone, but you will do it equally. You will also be protecting the Ocean environment and it’s resources from further harm as well as give it a chance to return to a stable (or semi-stable state). But, in order for a NMPAs to be successfull you need to get the opinions of evey Ocean User in the study area! Apparently this did not happen during the Southern California NMPA process.
In fact, First Nations groups in California say they weren’t inluded at all in the process and the areas where they fished are now protected and off limits to them. Not only is it bad to exclude a group or more than one group from the process, but it is terrible to exclude a groups with the reputation for living sustainably for centuries. First Nations fish only what they need to in order to survive as they do with other natural resources. So the fact that they are excluded from the process is, in my opinion, a HUGE MISTAKE!
Hopefully, the First Nations groups will be included in future plans of the NMPA as the size and location of each MPA within the network are always going to change as we understand the Oceans and Species and where they are located.