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Endangered Island Foxes Break Record for Fast Recovery | The Nature Conservancy - California
"Thanks to scientific strategy, the world’s smallest fox has rebounded from sure extinction in just a decade."
foxes  channelislands  california  2018  animals  wildlife  nature  multispecies 
july 2018 by robertogreco
How the U.S. Acted Too Late and Almost Lost the Island Fox - The Atlantic
"Some researchers have therefore begun to propose relocating animals across islands—a technique known as genetic rescue. It has worked elsewhere before, and it could inject each subspecies with enough variation to make it more vigorous.

It may seem like the ultimate in modern-day stewardship: Biologists ferrying small foxes across the sea, all for the good of the species. But modern-day ecologists will be repeating a more ancient exercise. While genetic evidence suggests that island foxes floated or swam to the northern islands during the previous ice age, when sea levels were lower, they did not reach the southern islands without help. Between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago, Native people, likely the Tongva, carried island foxes between the islands as companion animals. In particular, it seems increasingly likely that people introduced foxes to Santa Catalina and the southern isles.

In the long view, the story looks less like people disturbing a pristine environment and then rushing to remedy their own failure. Instead, it suggests a longer story of human-fox coexistence. Without human help, there wouldn't be island foxes anymore. And without humans in the first place, these particular kinds of island fox might not have existed at all."
foxes  animals  multispecies  channelislands  california  conservation  wildlife  eagles  pigs  2016 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Fisherman’s Dilemma - The California Sunday Magazine
"Off the coast of California, a radical experiment has closed hundreds of miles of ocean to fishing. Will it lead to better catches for years to come?"



"Maricich’s decision to throw in his lot with fish counters rather than catchers is in part economic, but it also stems from one truth that in a backdoor kind of way unites fishermen and conservationists: After all the closures and commissions, all the surveys and reappraisals, the ocean is still deeply mysterious. In the 1970s and 1980s, a profound knowledge deficit led to a policy of killing fish first and asking questions later. In the 2000s, the corrective — to close fishing grounds first and ask questions later — has been equally burdened by the problem of the vastness of the ocean.

Which was why the research Tim Maricich has been doing with the Nature Conservancy over the past three years is so important. It suggests that the regulatory overhaul and the federal and state closures are working. “We’re pretty consistently finding species like the yelloweye rockfish, which are deemed overfished,” the Nature Conservancy’s Mary Gleason told me. “That suggests that the formal stock assessments are probably underestimating their abundance and that the Rockfish Conservation Areas are probably contributing to their rebuilding. We’re seeing big schools of fish — widow rockfish, chilipepper rockfish. It’s gotten the fishermen pretty excited. They’re hoping some of this data might support opening up some of the closed areas.”"



"A decade later, the first comprehensive results are starting to emerge from scuba surveys. Jenn Caselle, a research biologist also from the University of California at Santa Barbara, has logged thousands of dive hours in the same cold water and kelp I experienced in Monterey. She’s found a noticeable change there, particularly around Anacapa Island, where I was now fishing. “The important message from the Channel Islands over ten years,” she says, “is that the fish inside the reserves are increasing. But here’s the key point. The populations of many fished species outside the reserves are also increasing — not as fast, but they’re increasing. This is really important because it was feared that the redistribution of fishing effort could cause scorched earth outside the reserves. That’s not happening.”"



"Evidence like Caselle’s isn’t good enough for some critics. Ray Hilborn, a professor of aquatic and fisheries science at the University of Washington who’s frequently cited by fishermen as a counterweight to the “enviros,” claims there’s no evidence that the sanctuaries are having a comprehensive effect. Hilborn had taken part in the establishment of California marine reserves and found the science guidelines lacking in academic rigor. “If they had done it correctly,” he says, “there would have been adequate control groups, like with any experiment. They would have set up three reserves and three non-reserves and then compared the fish in each after five and then ten years.”

But Caselle argues that a control for an experiment the size of the Channel Islands network is an impossibility. “The hypothesis is that the total effect of a network is greater than the sum of its parts,” she says. “But that is very difficult to measure. That would require having another region that is similar in all ways to Southern California but without marine protected areas. Essentially, there are no controls for entire networks.” In other words, the entire California approach to linking its fragmented coast is a leap of faith. A leap of faith where the default is not fishing instead of fishing."



"Were all these fish the result of the reserve? Or was it just a good day, as can happen, even when there aren’t that many fish around? It cannot yet be scientifically documented. Since many fish that are specifically protected by the reserves, like rockfish, can live many dozens of years, it may be a long time until we know the extent to which reserves populate other fishing grounds. By the end of the day, when the mate cleaned our catch and the dozen-odd fishermen aboard the Cobra all had a bag or two of fillets to show, there seemed to be a grudging feeling that the Channel Islands experiment had shifted something. As we motored back to port, a retired chef who’d been fishing next to me muttered, “I’ll tell you what, if it wasn’t for these closures, there wouldn’t be any fish at all.”

This thought stayed with me as I made my way to the airport. After boarding a plane I checked my phone before shutting it down for the trip back east. Atop the headlines was the news that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had closed the entirety of the East Coast from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to the Canadian border to both commercial and sport cod fishing —  at least until May, in an effort to reverse declining fish populations in the Gulf of Maine. These were grounds I’d helped deplete over the past decade. After the latest stock assessment it was revealed that cod had dipped to an even lower level than had previously been assumed. The remaining stocks from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Maine, a population upon which colonial New England built its economy, were now reported to be between 3 and 4 percent of what would be required to have a sustainable fishery.

As I considered this news, I thought how the fishermen of California might have avoided a similar fate. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recently surveyed the range of fisheries off California and moved many of the state’s groundfish species off its red “Avoid” list. In the decades ahead, commercial fishermen might enjoy rebuilt runs of rockfish and lingcod, surging runs of white sea bass and squid, all of them dashing through the regrown kelp in pursuit of sardines and anchovies that are also, apparently, on the rebound.

With the spring migrations coming on, the usual time I’d head to Gloucester for cod, I thought about what I might do instead. Was there something else I could fish? Maybe mackerel would swing through our waters as they once did in my youth but now only do on occasion. Maybe the blackfish would make an appearance if they hadn’t been hit too hard by lobstermen whose Long Island Sound lobster had grown scarce. Or maybe I’ll just hang it up and not fish at all this season."

[See also: http://aeon.co/magazine/science/a-radical-model-for-saving-californias-ocean-fisheries/ ]
paulgreenberg  coreyarnold  california  fisheries  fishing  commercialfishing  2015  oceans  pacificocean  montereybay  timmaricich  natureconservancy  conservation  rayhilborn  stevegaines  jenncaselle  aancapaisland  channelislands  environmentalism  economics 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Channel Islands: Southern California's offshore Eden - Travel - LATimes.com
"Unparalleled kayaking, diving and that rarest of finds -- solitude -- await on 'America's Galápagos.' And just getting to the watery national park is an adventure, breaching whales and all."
channelislands  latimes  losangeles  santabarbara  travel 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Island Packers
"Cruising the California Channel Islands for education, recreation, and research since 1968. Let your island adventure begin with the experienced crew from Island Packers. Providing first rate transportation services for island hiking, camping, kayaking, whale watching, school field trips, sightseeing and harbor cruises. We travel to all five islands in the Channel Islands National Park."
channelislands  california  camping  diving  ferry  kayaking  outdoors  santabarbara  travel  islands  campgrounds 
july 2010 by robertogreco

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