Mobile Nature Reserves

NOAA's National Ocean Service

The time for mobile nature reserves has come. What, you haven’t heard of them before? They don’t actually exist yet. The idea was just proposed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver. As reported in the Guardian, mobile nature reserves would work as follows:

Instead of restricting areas by their location, mobile reserves would identify particular conditions that attract marine life “The stationary reserves do little to protect highly mobile animals, like most of the fish, turtles, sharks and seabirds,” said Larry Crowder, science director at the Centre for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. “We think of protected areas as places that are locked down on a map. But places in oceans are not locked down, they move.”

Overfishing and the decline of marine life are one of the biggest problems facing the planet. According to Environmental Defense, “The world’s oceans are being emptied of seafood. While habitat loss and climate change contribute to the crisis, the biggest cause is overfishing.” “90% of large fish like tuna and swordfish have been removed from the oceans.”

The world was able to mobilize in the 70s and 80s to protect large mammals like whales and dolphins in part because they are so cute. It will be much more difficult to get the necessary global consensus around much smaller species that we can’t see because they are under water. Marine life will probably have to drop to precariously low levels before we are able to start building it up again. In the mean time we will need lots of really elegant ideas like mobile nature preserves to prevent the permanent loss of some species.


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