Fishermen and Environmentalists Unite to Save Pacific Ecosystem

In Morro Bay, California, fishermen and envirmontalists have implemented an innovative plan to protect 6,000 acres of marine habitat.

In a landmark agreement between two sides sometimes at odds, fishermen and environmentalists in Morro Bay, California have taken drastic measures to preserve the Pacific's vulnerable ecosystem.

Members of the Morro Bay trawling industry worked with environmental groups Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense to lay out "no-trawl" zones across 6,000 acres of the Pacific seafloor stretching between Morro Bay and Monterey Bay.

As incentive for fishermen to move away from the harmful bottom trawling fishing technique, the environmental groups are paying top dollar for trawlers, trawling equipment, and fishing permits. In turn, the fishermen will use more selective methods like hooks and traps to target smaller catches of valuable fish. In the future, the environmental groups will redistribute the trawling permits as they see fit.

In drawing up the agreement, the two groups worked closely to see how the fishermen's documented trawling areas matched up with areas designated as at-risk by the National Research Council.

This is the first time that private environmental groups have purchased fishing permits in order to save a marine ecosystem, and the agreement may set a precedent for future environmental protection efforts.