Reef fish swim above the coral on the reef in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo Credit: Karen Bryan/HIMB/NOAAAnimalsEnvironment United States
There Are Plenty More Fish in the (Protected!) Sea
Studies show that fish populations are rebounding in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Hawaiian islands – one of the largest protected areas on the planet.
“This idea of large scale marine protected areas is relatively new. That has lended a kind of urgency that has spread throughout the Pacific,” says Kekuewa Kikiloi, associate professor at the Hawai’inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. “It’s pretty amazing to see the level of mutual support and how much this genre of marine conservation is growing so quickly.”
Parts of the area have been protected since the early 1900s under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. In 2016, President Barack Obama expanded the protected area to 580,000 square miles – an area almost the size of Alaska. Scientists set out to determine if the fish populations in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument were indeed rebounding because of no-fishing zones, or if something else was occurring. They conclude that indeed the fish populations that are rebounding are able to do so because of the 2016 law that greatly expanded the protection of the area.