Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS)

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS)

In 2002, the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) within the near shore waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). Four years later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) expanded the MPA network into the sanctuary’s deeper waters, encompassing a total of 318 square miles. The entire MPA network consists of 11 marine reserves where all forms of harvesting, including recreational fishing, are prohibited and two marine conservation areas that allow limited take of fish.

Flawed Economics

As part of the process of proposing new no-take MPAs, the CINMS Marine Reserve Working Group’s Socioeconomic Panel undertook an economic impact assessment. The Panel’s analysis vastly underestimated the economic impact of banning sportfishing in parts of the sanctuary. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and United Anglers of Southern California commissioned Southwick Associates, Inc. of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to evaluate the Panel’s findings. Southwick Associates found the Panel’s analysis to be sound with the exception of two critical points:

  • The economic data used was 20 years old
  • Anglers’ equipment purchase information was ignored

Utilizing the same methods as the Panel, Southwick Associates reanalyzed the data correcting for the two discrepancies by replacing old data with recent expenditures data from the National Marine Fisheries Service and including anglers’ equipment expenditures in the analysis. The key findings of the Southwick Associates include :

  • By significantly reducing an angler’s access to fishing opportunities within the CINMS, many equipment purchases will not be made and coastal business, hotels and restaurants will suffer losses.
  • Sportfishing bans in the Channel Islands could result in annual losses to California’s economy of over $100 million in retail sales alone. Potentially twice this amount could be lost to due to the ripple effect of those lost purchases on other sectors of the economy.
  • To replace the economic losses due to sportfishing bans, other activities outside of sportfishing (such as whale watching, sailing and sightseeing) would have to increase by at least 350 percent.
  • Businesses directly supporting fishing will lose 163 jobs. Boating businesses will lose an additional 726 jobs. A total of 2,700 jobs could be lost from all sectors of the economy.
  • The previous economic evaluation left out nearly 90 percent of potential economic losses.
  • Sportfishing is the preferred recreational activity in the CINMS. It is estimated that CINMS provides roughly 10 percent of all marine sportfishing opportunities in Southern California. There are over one million recreational saltwater anglers in California.

Current Status

With the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), additional MPAs have been established, closing approximately 12 percent of southern California’s ocean to recreational fishing – including many of the state’s best recreational fishing areas. Visit the KeepAmericaFishing™ MLPA webpage to learn more about this process.