Cohen operates an outfitting business that runs sea cave kayaking tours within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Scorpion Anchorage State Marine Reserve and Painted Cave State Marine Conservation Area.
Drawing on first-hand experience, Cohen highlighted the economic and social benefits of protecting unique natural resources for sustained public enjoyment. One of the biggest successes of the MPA;s in the Santa Barbara Channel has been achieved through preventing pollution, protecting habitat and limiting consumptive activities such as fishing and harvesting marine resources. This has led to an increase in biodiversity which is a significant draw to divers, snorkelers and kayakers.
Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) is held each year in Washington D.C. This gathering of marine experts, government officials and industry stewards is an opportunity to discuss topics such as environmental risk and conservation, economic growth and emergency management related to marine and coastal areas. The panel was introduced by Santa Barbara’s own Congresswoman Lois Capps and Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek. Congresswoman Capps spoke enthusiastically and passionately about the benefits of protecting marine resources and noted that visitation to the Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary provides a $200 million boost to the local economy. Capps is well known for her work in passing legislation that has protected fisheries and marine habitat.
At the conclusion of CHOW, Cohen was enthusiastic about the event. “Santa Barbara Adventure Company is honored to be an ambassador for the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary at the national level” he said. “We are passionate about sharing the benefits of Marine Protected Areas in our kayak tours and see firsthand how they impact the local economy and the lives of visitors in such a positive way. It is encouraging to see this discussion taking place at Capitol Hill Ocean Week”.
Visitors to MPA’s bring tens of millions of dollars to the Santa Barbara region each year through activities such as kayaking, hiking, whale watching, sailing and recreational fishing. Whale watching alone injects over $4 million dollars per year into the local economy and supports over 100 jobs.
Photo: Fred Keeley: Discussion Moderator, Jerry Ault :Professor of Marine Biology & Fisheries, University of Miami. Michael Cohen: Owner/Director Santa Barbara Adventure Company