Abstract: We explored the interaction of science and society in attempts to restore impaired marine ecosystems in Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary, California. Deteriorating resource conditions triggered a community's desire to change public policy. Channel Islands National Park, one of 40 marine protected areas in the U.S. National Park System, was proclaimed a national monument in 1938 and expanded substantially in 1980 by an act of Congress. Collapse of marine life populations and loss of 80% of the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests in the park between 1980 and 1998 showed that habitat and water quality protection alone had not secured sustainable ocean ecosystems or fisheries. The failed fishery management strategies and practices prompted formal community and agency requests in 1998 for a network of reserves protected from direct fishing impacts to serve as marine recovery areas. A 2‐year attempt to build a community consensus based on science for a reserve network successfully identified recovery goals for fisheries, biodiversity, education, economics, and heritage values. Nevertheless, the community group failed to garner unanimous support for a specific reserve network to achieve those common goals. The group submitted a recommendation, supported by 14 of 16 members, to state and federal authorities in 2001 for action in their respective jurisdictions. California adopted the half of the network in state waters in 2003. This process exposed the socioeconomic factors involved in the design of marine protected areas that can be negotiated successfully among groups of people and factors determined by nature that cannot be negotiated. Understanding the differences among the factors was crucial in reaching consensus and changing public policy.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2005
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