Lame-duck governor Jeb Bush of Florida that is. In one of his last actions as governor, he and his cabinet approved a management plan banning 61 square miles of ocean in the Dry Tortugas National Park from fishing in addition to the near-by already 200 square miles closed to fishing in 2001, known as the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. The lone dissenter on the vote, Attorney General Crist, happens to be the governor elect and is "reluctant to restrict a freedom from individual recreational fishermen and fisherwomen," despite marine biologists in the area general consensus that it will actually help fisheries. Of course, whether or not the ban will last the five years before it is lifted or re-voted remains to be seen given the new governors position on the matter. Read the article here.
MPAs (marine protected areas) are a hot topic recently as more and more are popping up across the country and around the world. The basic idea is that by closing a certain size area to all fishing pressure, you can maintain and perhaps even increase marine biodiversity, protect important ecosystems and essential fish habitats, enhance fish stocks and generate dollars in terms of Eco tourism and education. Of course the big argument is whether or not these help the overall community or ecosystem. A lot of complaints are generated toward closed areas as refuges for fish and eliminating the fish from other non closed areas. The whole idea, however, is that these areas are a refuge, and fish can grow bigger and healthier, living longer lives and becoming more fecund, which in turn, generates more eggs and juvenile fish, the spill out will be toward the open areas. And while these MPAs will see increases in fish diversity and abundance first, competition for space and resources is often limiting, and even adult fish will move away from these areas. In general, long term monitoring needs to be conducted before the success of an MPA can be observed, but their impact in quite obvious. I believe these area good idea, they have been shown to work in George's Bank and Australia, and I think given the state of fisheries on the world scale, the more we can do to help the better.