Resource Issues: Ecosystem Conservation and Biodiversity Protection
Overview of the issue
The nutrient rich waters of the Sanctuary's ecosystem sustain the greatest biodiversity of the temperate regions of the world, including 33 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, and 345 species of fish. In addition to the large array of individual species, ecosystems include habitat structure, species assemblages, ecological and physical processes, as well as humans and their use patterns. Ecosystem conservation and protection of biodiversity requires consideration of the complex array of habitats, species, and interconnected processes and their relationship to human activities.
How is the Sanctuary involved?
The goals and objectives of the National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA) direct each of the sanctuaries to take an ecosystem approach to managing these fluid marine environments that have great temporal and spatial complexity, diversity and dimension. Through Sanctuary partnerships, resource agencies, the scientific community, and the public work together for an integrated ecosystem approach to the management of sanctuaries.
While upholding the Sanctuary's primary goal of resource protection, the Sanctuary allows for multiple uses that are compatible with resource protection. An ecosystem conservation perspective is maintained in Sanctuary approaches to addressing the broad range of specific resource protection issues outlined in this section. The Sanctuary's research team is also developing a long-term assessment of the region's ecosystem called the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Program (SIMoN) to establish baselines and trends, and assist managers in distinguishing between natural and human-caused resource impacts.
In addition, beginning in 2001 the Sanctuary began working collaboratively with a subcommittee of the Community Alliance for Sustainable Fisheries to evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of using marine reserves to facilitate ecosystem conservation and sustainable fisheries. This subcommittee, which includes fishermen, scientists, and environmental organizations, is attempting to develop solutions which can protect Sanctuary resources while sustaining the region's critical fishing industry. The subcommittee is attempting to provide recommendations on the issue to the California Department of Fish and Game, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the Sanctuary program.