October 17, 2012

MPA Creature Feature: Spiny Lobsters

From our friends at the California Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach branch of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation:

Creature Feature: Spiny Lobster

The California spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus, is common from Point Conception to Baja California, Mexico. California spiny lobsters play an important role in the ecosystem not the least of which is limiting sea urchin abundance and subsequently allowing kelp forests to thrive in southern California.

Hunting of California spiny lobster dates back to the late 1800's. This year the recreational and commercial fishing seasons began on September 29th and October 3rd respectively. Over time, as the largest individuals have been preferentially targeted by these fisheries, the average size and life span of the lobsters has been reduced, threatening the balance of entire ecosystems.

Marine protected areas in southern California may help to restore this species by protecting important juvenile nursery habitats and allowing adults to grow larger and produce more young. In a scientific study in California's Channel Islands, where marine protected areas have been in place for 10 years, Kay et al. (2012) compared lobster catches in marine reserves to non-reserve sites. The study found that lobsters were more abundant and larger in the marine protected areas, with an average of 5.49 more legal-sized lobsters caught and subsequently released per trap inside the reserves.

In other research, that is part of the South Coast MPA Baseline Program, the Lobster Monitoring Project, scientists are attempting to understand how the new regulations associated with the MPAs may affect the lobster's ecology. This program tags lobsters to quantify their baseline levels and monitor short term changes in their abundance, size structure, habitat use, and movement patterns inside and outside of south coast marine protected areas. We hope this research and the California spiny lobster will prove to be an early success story of the network of marine protected areas in California. Find out more...

Learn more about these awesome ocean creatures with these cool facts!

Stay up to date about Marine Protected Areas at saveourshores.org/mpa...

Santa Cruz County Bans the Sale of Styrofoam Products

As of today, October 17, 2012, the sale of most polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) products is illegal in the County of Santa Cruz

This includes foam cups, plates, bowls, coolers and similar products that will no longer be sold in County stores.
Big thanks to the Santa Cruz County Supervisors who Took Action to our protect local beaches and the wildlife of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

The City of Capitola also has a ban on the sale of Styrofoam products. These bans are the strictest in the nation.

A recent article in the Monterey County Weekly reports further on how one company, Jamba Juice of Sand City, is still using Styrofoam. From the article: 

The tiny hamlet of Sand City is the very last holdout on the Monterey Bay shoreline where takeout orders are still legally packed in polystyrene foam. 

Every other coastal jurisdiction from Carmel to Davenport, including unincorporated Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, has banned the beach-littering plastic commonly known as styrofoam.

And in that little foam haven of Sand City, only one restaurant – Jamba Juice in the Edgewater Shopping Center – is still clinging to its polystyrene containers. At least, that’s according to Santa Cruz conservation nonprofit Save Our Shores, whose staffers have hit up the Sand City restaurants one by one in hopes of converting them to eco-friendlier packaging.

Read the full article...

Save Our Shores will continue to target problematic pieces of pollution and create effective solutions to protect our ocean and communities from plastic pollution. Read more...