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Calling All Marine Scientists – Support Marine Reserves!

Join leading marine, natural and social scientists asking President Obama to “dramatically accelerate protections for U.S. waters” in no-take marine reserves.  We are seeking scientists from around the world to show their support for this.

Why now?  As you may be aware, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his State Department are hosting the “Our Ocean” Conference next month in Washington DC.  This event is a major opportunity for the marine science community to highlight the importance and great need for marine reserves to maintain the marine biota and essential ecological services that oceans provide.

Please add your voice to this letter and let President Obama know that marine scientists—those uniquely equipped to know the importance of marine life and its importance to people—support more no-take areas in U.S. waters and worldwide.

See who signed on and add your name at:

Dear President Obama,

Marine life and the essential ecological services oceans provide are increasingly threatened by human activities including climate change and ocean acidification. For several decades marine scientists have recognized the value of no-take marine reserves for safeguarding marine life. In 1998, Marine Conservation Institute and 1,605 marine scientists issued the “Troubled Waters: A Call for Action” statement (Appendix 1) calling on the world to protect 20% of every marine biogeographic region to save the sea’s biodiversity. In 2001, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis issued its “Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas”, outlining the striking ecological benefits for marine life within and outside of no-take reserves and the effects of ecological networks (Appendix 2).

An extensive scientific literature now shows compelling evidence that strongly protected marine reserves are powerful ways of conserving biodiversity. In addition, no-take reserves can create jobs and bring in new economic revenue through ecotourism and enhancement of local fisheries through spillover beyond reserve boundaries. Finally, no-take reserves provide resilience against the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Whereas the unprotected ocean is like a debit account where everybody withdraws and nobody deposits, marine reserves are like savings accounts that produce interest we can live off.

The United States and several states (most notably California) have designated many marine protected areas. Multiple-use areas designated to protect natural or cultural heritage now cover about 8% of U.S. waters. But no-take reserves cover less than 3% of the approximately 4.4 million square mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. As a nation we need to do better.

Acknowledging this progress and the growing impacts that humans are having on our marine ecosystems and the fisheries they support, we, the undersigned scientists, call on the United States government to dramatically accelerate protections for U.S. waters. Protecting 20% of habitats across all biogeographic regions in no-take reserves will provide the resilience needed to ensure America’s ongoing interest in healthy oceans.


Enric Sala, PhD National Geographic Society

Sylvia Earle, PhD Mission Blue and National Geographic Society

Carl Safina, PhD Blue Ocean Institute

Callum Roberts, PhD University of York

Jeremy Jackson, PhD Smithsonian Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Daniel Pauly, PhD University of British Columbia

Boris Worm, PhD Dalhousie University

Rodrigo H. Bustamante, PhD Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands

Peter Mumby, PhD University of Queensland

Lauren Mullineaux, PhD Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Alan Friedlander, PhD University of Hawaii

Elliott Norse, PhD Marine Conservation Institute

James A. Estes, PhD University of California, Santa Cruz

Fiorenza Micheli, PhD Stanford University

Les Watling, PhD University of Hawaii

Stuart Pimm, PhD, Duke University

Peter J. Auster, PhD University of Connecticut and Mystic Aquarium

Rodolphe Devilliers, PhD Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Tony Koslow, PhD Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California

J.E.N. Veron, PhD DSc Australian Institute of Marine Science

Robert Warner, PhD University of California Santa Barbara