Nature crosses man-made political boundaries. If we are to manage and conserve nature we must collaborate across these boundaries between nations. The management of the Earth’s shared ecosystems must evolve across state, country and international borders. The California Current system is one of the most productive bodies of coastal water on the planet and home to some of the biggest kelp forests in the world. This system is shared by California (the United States) and Baja California (Mexico), and steps need to be taken to address this common shared ecosystem.
With a bi-national vision and under the new UC-Mexico initiative, earlier this month marine scientists from Mexico and the US came together in Ensenada, Baja California to discuss directions for the future of the California Current’s kelp ecosystems. The “Binational initiative of coastal ecosystems and fisheries in the climate change scenario” workshop’s aim was to create a cohesive interdisciplinary team of researchers to evaluate the ecosystem services of the coastal area throughout the California Current system. Researchers from the Autonomous University of Baja California, CICESE, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, University of California Santa Barbara and Stanford University all participated in the 2-day workshop.
During the meeting, each group presented the progress of their own research projects relating to the kelp forest ecosystems of Baja and the Pacific US. Project objectives included understanding the responses and adaptations of to climate variability, how fisheries will change in response to variable kelp populations and what value kelp forests have for human populations. Following discussions on methods to continue in an interdisciplinary manner, the skeleton structure of a white paper was sketched out ready for each researcher’s unique contributions to the 8 different sections that were noted (See picture below).
This was an enriching academic exercise, and we were able to set the foundation for future bi-national collaboration, the formation of the white paper (which will be finished by June) and (we hope) future advice for managers and policy makers working in the conservation and management of Pacific kelp ecosystems.
The attendees to the workshop were:
Octavio Aburto Oropeza, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD
Fiorenza Micheli, Stanford University
Max Castorani, UC Santa Barbara
Matt Edwards, San Diego State University
Ed Parnell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD
Guillermo Torres, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California
Jose Zertuche, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California
Gabriela Montaño, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California
Julio Palleiro, Instituto Nacional de Pesca
Oscar Sosa, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE)
Rodrigo Beas, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California
Nur Arafeh, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California
Andrew F. Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD
Arturo Ramírez-Valdez, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD
Arturo Ramirez is a PhD student in Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research involves a blend of quantitative and empirical approaches to marine conservation, biodiversity assessment, biogeography, and fisheries management. He is now working in a project to determine the ecological value and economic importance of the kelp forests in the Southern California Bight, based on their contribution to economies in USA and Mexico including: the commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational activities, coastal protection and their susceptibility to climate change and human-induced degradation.