I’ve just got into San Francisco. The journey has begun!
A 4am start from Cardiff, changeover at Amsterdam, then a long light over to SFO. I’m not quite sure what day it is, but I’m definitely glad to be here.
As I start this first leg of my WCMT fellowship on the realities of highly protected marine areas, I’ve got so many questions floating around my head. And lots of plans for meetings and site visits over the next two weeks that I’m excited to be able to share.
I chose to look at highly protected marine areas because the UK has hardly any at all - out of around 750,000km2 of UK seas, less than seven are highly protected as a so-called “no-take” marine reserve. A teeny tiny percentage. The reasons behind this are many, but for whatever reason, we have just not got past that initial stage to get more than a few tiny sites designated.
These are the areas where you can only look and enjoy through a snorkel, scuba mask or scientific research trip. You can’t take anything out (such as by fishing) or put anything in (such as by dumping). They’re there to allow nature to thrive again, to recover or simply to better understand what could be there if left alone.
As part of this leg of my fellowship I’ll be mainly travelling to the Point Lobos and Channel Islands network of State Marine Reserve (SMRs), talking to the people who manage them, monitor them and use them. I want to know why these reserves have stood the test of time, and how they've been perceived over time.
Lots more to come hopefully, watch this space….