Do you believe the ban will be forever, or just until there is enough of a rebound to lift it?
Just as with state and national parks on land, these Marine Protected Areas are designed to remain in perpetuity. The goal was not just to allow rebound of certain species, but to protect whole ecosystems for future generations.
Are there particular types of California fish or other marine creatures Californians should not be catching or eating?
The Seafood Watch program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides guides on which kinds of fish are sustainable and which are not. Many types of rockfish in California, for example, are on the “red” or “avoid” list, while species like halibut and sardines are on the “green” or “best choices” list.
Does the ban affect any members of the public immediately?
The MPAs designated in the South Coast Region will go into effect in mid 2011 after appropriate regulatory filings. The MPAs in the Central Coast went into effect in 2007, and the MPAs in the North Central Coast went into effect in 2010.
How long will it take before the ban’s impact on restoring species can be measured?
The extent of the impact of designating new MPAs will depend on the lifespans and behaviors of the species being measured. Some species reproduce at a young age and grow fairly quickly; thus any impact on those species would be measurable within a few years. Other species, such as some rockfish, grow very slowly and reproduce later in life, and any measurable impact on them may take decades.
Are there some people out there who deliberately ignore such bans and take fish, crab, and crustaceans anyway?
Yes, unfortunately. These people are called “poachers” and whenever they are caught they are prosecuted according to the appropriate Fish and Game regulations that they have violated.
Are there fines for commercial fishing outfits that break the rules?
Yes. Regulations vary, but commercial and recreational fishers can be fined, and fines increase for repeat offenders.
Image Credit: Andrew Chen