‘If you’ve spent any real time offshore, you know that some spots are more “fishy” than others. To any fishermen worth his/her salt, that’s just a given. Often, a spot’s productivity is due to hard-bottom, structure or rapid depth changes. But other times, for no particular reason we are aware of, some areas seem to hold “life” more consistently than others. By life I mean anything and everything: turtles, whales, dolphin, sand eels, squids, etc… All the stuff we look for when trying to determine whether or not tuna, mahi, billfish, stripers, bluefish or any other fish that we might want to target could be around.
As the coastal population continues to boom, and the ever-increasing demand for energy continues, we’ll likely see, within our lifetimes, ocean development at a scale that’s almost hard to imagine. The overarching point though is that ocean use is rapidly increasing, and it needs to be addressed on a high level, first of all to minimize the ocean use conflicts that will inevitably arise, but perhaps more importantly, to avoid adverse ecosystem impacts.
So a major focus of ocean planning right now is the development of a stronger base of information to make well-informed decisions on what’s appropriate where.
We don’t want to put a wind farm on top of a coral community. Yes, the science on these things is probably not perfect – and, in fact, more data on fisheries will be needed as we continue to improve our maps into the future – but this is a huge first step, and we need to take advantage of this opportunity. Ocean use is increasing, and decisions are made every day about where and how to develop. We certainly can’t wait and let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” We need to act on what we have and know now to make sure some of these places continue to exist.’