Just like national parks protect land, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) preserve underwater ecosystems. As of now, there are more than 6,500 MPAs, protecting about 2% of our oceans. There are different types of MPAs ranging from “Strict Nature Reserve” that allows no resource removal, to “Sustainable use of Natural Resources” where limited resources can be taken. Catalina Island has a whopping nine marine protected areas, both coastal and offshore. Some of them, like the Long Point State Marine Reserve is a strict “no-take” zone. However, the Bird Rock State Marine Reserve allows the removal of certain types of pelagic finfish.
Marine protected areas can benefit both the environment and the fishing economy. Protected species can grow larger, thus reproducing with higher success rate as well as reproducing more often. This means that as fish populate, some of them will venture out of the MPA. These potentially animals can be caught by fishermen in the area, leading to higher numbers caught, and larger animals caught.