Article from the NYTimes that discusses the controversial plans to expand protected areas inside the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Closing the 10,522 acres to fishing — a section of the park that the federal government controls alone — is one of several options on the table, Mr. Carlstrom said. It has been shown, in some cases, to be an effective and quick way to replenish fish stocks, scientists said. The larger that a fish is allowed to grow, the more eggs that are released. In Dry Tortugas National Park, off Key West, this approach has helped fish rebound not just in the reserve but also beyond it, the scientists added.
This is bad: a recent assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that 25% of the 1000-or-so species of sharks and rays are in danger of extinction. Add to that 18% of the world’s grouper species, and that’s a whole lot of top-level predators becoming rare in the ocean.
This is bad, and not just because it means there are fewer tasty fish for us to eat. Overfishing even a single species is increasingly leading to snowball effects that trickle through the ecosystem. Don’t think that predators are all that important? Check out how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone moved rivers: