Sharing Our Waters
An avid ocean sportsman who dives, boats, kayaks and surfs in the sanctuary, Greg Helms has volunteered and worked for marine protection organizations for more than 10 years. As program manager for The Ocean Conservancy, he was a leading conservationist advocating for marine protected areas in the Channel Islands sanctuary. Existing regulations had set size or catch limits, gear requirements and seasonal closures, but they had rarely set a blanket ban on taking all marine life. The establishment of the “no-take” zones signaled a shift in ocean management from “the old yield-based approach to a more holistic approach,” Helms says.
“Rather than just focusing on managing and maximizing the amount we take of each individual species, we should be looking at the food web as a whole, taking into account predator-prey relationships, and worrying about everything from the big mammals all the way down to the plankton,” he says.Like many conservationists, Helms says he is concerned about protecting the sanctuary for future generations. “That’s the altruistic part of it,” he says. “But as a diver, surfer and ocean enthusiast, there is also a certain desire for me personally to see the big fish again, and to have the peace of mind that things are being protected.”