Wild ocean areas are essential for maintaining fish populations

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Marine life in the wilderness areas of the ocean

Remote ocean wilderness areas are located over four hours from people and over nine hours from urban markets. A new study co-led by a University of Hawaii in Manoa An expert has found that these remote areas support fish populations up to three times better than some of the best marine reserves and managed fisheries.

fish in the ocean
Marine life in the wilderness areas of the ocean

Alan friedlander, researcher at EUH by Manoa Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and chief scientist with the National Geographic Society Virgin Seas, co-author of the study, which was published in Fish and fishing end of October 2021. Friedlander and researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society, National Geographic Society and other universities examined more than 700 isolated sites, marine reserves and managed fisheries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They said the wilderness areas are home to many important and endangered species like sharks, groupers, jacks and snappers, which require large spaces to thrive.

Experts, including Friedlander, are calling for more action as these wild marine areas are rapidly disappearing in the face of widespread fishing.

“Marine wild areas support unique ecological values ​​that are unparalleled as we move closer to humans, even in large, well-managed marine reserves,” Friedlander said. “These areas are essential for the conservation of biodiversity and the beneficial benefits they can bring to fishing.

initiative 30 × 30

fish swimming in the ocean
Marine life in the wilderness areas of the ocean

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People is an intergovernmental group of 70 countries that is currently championing a global agreement whose central goal is to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. Likewise, a new US President Joe Biden’s administration “30 × 30” initiative seeks to protect and conserve at least 30% of the country’s land and seas by 2030. Progress towards this goal is underway, but currently less than 3% of the world’s oceans are fully protected in marine reserves.

Friedlander said that while the focus is on 30% coverage of marine reserves, the need to find and protect marine wilderness areas remains a high priority. The authors said the two approaches complement each other, as marine reserves protect more resilient species while wilderness protects species requiring space.

stingray and fish swimming in the ocean
Marine life in the wilderness areas of the ocean

“Observing and studying fish for decades has made it clear to me that many fish, and especially large fish, need a lot of space to survive and thrive,” Friedlander said. “This collaboration and analysis with my colleagues has clearly shown how essential this need for an open marine wilderness is to healthy oceans. This robust and extensive dataset has allowed us to confirm what many of us have observed for years – that remote marine wilds are like time machines that allow us to observe the ocean. of the past in order to protect the future.

This work is an example of EUH Mānoa’s objectives of Building a Sustainable and Resilient Campus Environment: Within the Global Movement for Sustainability and Climate Resilience (PDF) and Research Excellence: Advancing the Business of Research and Creative Work (PDF), two of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

-Through Marc Arakaki


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