Fishing Bans in Marine Protected Areas & an Undiscovered "Oasis of Life"

Welcome to Shark Bite #20.

Fishing bans actually boost fish catches

Hopefully, that headline was as confusing for you as it was for me.

 Well, here’s what it actually means. 

 A study found that fishing bans in the world’s largest marine protected area actually increased catch rates in nearby fisheries. The study was conducted at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai‘i (good luck saying that three times fast). 

 Essentially, the fishing bans allow the marine protected areas to flourish, providing a safe habitat for species to reproduce. Once fish swim away out of the protected area, there are no laws protecting them from fishing lines. 

 The study was only conducted in one area on two species of fish, so it’s hard to say if these results hold true across a larger sample size. Regardless, here are the stats from 2016-2019:

  • Catch rates for Yellowfin Tuna increased by 54%
  • Catch rates for Bigeye Tuna rose by 12%

 Now, we’re still not a big fan of fisheries because they have a tendency to overfish and deplete populations. However, it is good to know that marine protected areas are having a positive effect on the oceans – increased population counts, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. 

 It’s important to note however that this theory only applies to fully protected marine areas. Because there are protected areas that still allow fishing & trawling – that doesn’t sound very “protected” to me. 

Scientists find “Oasis of Life” deep under the Maldives

A recent submarine mission in a deepwater region of the Maldives has revealed a type of ecosystem that “has never been described before.”

And they’ve dubbed it “The Trapping Zone,” a 500-meter-deep world where fish feast on microscopic nekton. And despite their small size, scientists estimate that all of the micronekton in the world weigh a combined 10+ billion tons. 

Okay… fish feeding on microscopic organisms – what’s the big deal?

The oceans are largely undiscovered and difficult to map, especially the deep zones. This finding will help scientists gain a better understanding of certain deepwater ecosystems, enabling them to develop solutions that protect species against the effects of climate change. 

So far, micronekton aren’t coping well with warming sea temperatures. Without them, entire ecosystems will collapse. 

Okay, that’s enough doom and gloom. 

No doubt about it, this is still really cool. And with most of the ocean being undiscovered, we’re bound to find more oases like these.

Anyone else hoping they find mermaids?

Hope you have a great week :)



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