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History Lesson: Solutions for the Sea

Marine protected areas have made international headlines in the past week as Oregon moved closer to approving three reserves and Australia delayed plans for establishing coastal marine parks. Three marine experts and Island Press authors, Steve Palumbi, Carolyn Sotka, and Callum Roberts, have long championed reserves as critical for the health of the oceans. Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University, has seen first-hand how protected areas can transform an ecosystem and a community. In his new book, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, Palumbi and Sotka chronicle how Monterey went from a natural paradise to an industrial wasteland to one of the most celebrated shores in the world. The key to Monterey's revival was a break from massive overfishing after establishing a marine reserve area. After the town's fabled sardine fishery collapsed, the ecosystem began to rebuild itself, link by link. Similarly, Callum Roberts, professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, argues that marine protected areas, together with simple reforms in the way we fish, could reverse the tremendous damage we have inflicted on the oceans. His acclaimed book, The Unnatural History of the Sea, not only documents the world's devastating loss of marine biodiversity, but charts a path to restore it. As governments around the world consider whether to designate marine protected areas, Palumbi, Sotka, and Roberts deftly show why these reserves are so vital to the future of the oceans.