Honorable Chairman Dan Sullivan, Honorable Ranking Member Gary Peters, Members of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard and all Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:
Marine life and the essential ecological services that oceans provide are increasingly threatened by a variety of human activities. Marine scientists recognize the important role that strongly-protected marine reserves play in conserving marine life and benefiting fish populations.
In 2001, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis outlined the striking ecological benefits for marine life within and outside of strongly-protected reserves and the effects of ecological networks in its “Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas” (Appendix 1). Since then, extensive scientific literature has provided additional compelling evidence that strongly-protected marine reserves are powerful ways of conserving biodiversity. In addition, strongly-protected reserves can create jobs and bring in new economic revenue through ecotourism and enhancement of local fisheries through spillover beyond reserve boundaries. Finally, strongly-protected 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.
In light of 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 maintain existing ocean protections and to increase protections for diverse habitats across all biogeographic regions of U.S. ocean waters. Strongly-protected reserves will help provide the resilience needed to ensure the continued health and productivity of America’s oceans.
Enric Sala, PhD National Geographic Society
Sylvia Earle, PhD Mission Blue and National Geographic Society
Paul Dayton, PhD University of California San Diego
Oran Young, PhD Bren School University of California Santa Barbara
Daniel Pauly, PhD University of British Columbia
Steve Murray, PhD California State University Fullerton
Ellen K. Pikitch, PhD Stony Brook University
Callum Roberts, PhD University of York
Elliott Norse, PhD Marine Conservation Institute
Rashid Sumaila, PhD University of British Columbia
Carl Safina, PhD The Safina Center (formerly Blue Ocean Institute)
Stuart Pimm, PhD Duke University
Geraldine Knatz, PhD University of Southern California
(Signatories have signed this letter in their personal capacities; institutional affiliations are provided for purposes of identification only.)