No take Marine Protected Areas for the Pacific Northwest


I strongly urge each and every reader to obtain access to the April 2007 issue of National Geographic, and then carefully read the special report entitled “Saving the Seas Bounty”. In its usual fine style, this outstanding publication has featured a topic that should give everyone pause to consider.

In particular, the article entitled “Blue Haven” featuring what has been accomplished in New Zealand through the heroic efforts of Dr. Bill Ballantine should strike a positive cord here in the Pacific Northwest. His beautifully simple concept has been and is being accepted in country after country throughout the world. Global evidence for the value of No Take Marine Protected Areas (or Marine Reserves as they are called in New Zealand), steadily accumulates.

During one of his two trips to Vancouver, B.C. to attend a conference in 1992, Dr. Ballantine very eloquently presented the case that a network of No Take MPAs in the Pacific Northwest should be instituted. Many of us who attended remain convinced that their establishment is vital if we wish to pass on our incredible living marine heritage to upcoming generations.

No Take MPAs are essentially underwater equivalents of the magnificent terrestrial park systems so valued in both Canada and the United States. Establishment of these marine counterparts would generate virtually all of the same benefits accruing from National, State and Provincial Parks. In addition, many important fisheries would be positively impacted – a major positive so desperately needed and outlined in the National Geographic special report.

Unfortunately the Pacific Northwest remains virtually bereft of such marine life sanctuaries.

As divers, we have a personal and unique relationship with the sea. For us, the joy and wonder we experience underwater very much depends upon the marine life found there. From this perspective, I believe we should be leading the way, both in educating the general public about the need and lobbying appropriate government officials for establishment of No Take Marine Protected Areas.