CalOceans News

Showing all articles with tag: South Coast.


A great year for ocean protection

December 19th, 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of progress for ocean conservation in California. The state’s network of underwater parks moves ever closer to completion. Southern California ocean fans are eagerly awaiting the grand opening of new marine protected areas at south La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, Naples Reef and other hot spots in January 1. And progress continues on the far north coast, where an underwater parks plan will be finalized next year.

Fall and winter are primetime for whale viewing on the California coast.  Recently, visiting humpbacks made state and national news. Winter is also a fantastic time to go bird watching, or observe the annual, epic mating rituals of elephant seals at protected areas like Ano Nuevo or Piedras Blancas. Finally, seasonal low tides make for great tidepooling at Fitzgerald
Marine Reserve, Point Lobos, and Salt Point.

On California’s far north coast, conservationists, local residents, state officials and tribal communities have come together in support of a vision for the future where underwater parks and traditional tribal harvest co-exist in support of long-term ocean health. To cement that partnership, Hawk Rosales of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council wrote an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee in which he said native tribes will “celebrate this significant progress and will stay focused on building a brighter future – for tribes and for California.” You can listen here to a radio interview in which Hawk discusses the growing partnership between the state and North Coast tribes.

Finally, the North County Times delivers this uplifting report from the marine reserve in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, where the sea life has grown an astonishing 1,067 percent, much to the delight of the sharks, groupers and other predators in the region – and the humans that love them! It provides a positive example of the sort of benefits California can hope to derive from the creation of our own network of underwater parks through the Marine Life Protection Act.

Getting Off On the Right Fin

September 16th, 2011

South coast Marine Protected Areas set for January 1 implementation

On September 15, the California Fish and Game Commission announced
a January 1 effective date
for implementation of the new network of
underwater parks, or marine protected areas, in Southern California between
Point Conception in Santa Barbara County and the Mexico border. The plan,
passed by the Commission last December, is part of the state’s pioneering
effort to create a statewide network of protected areas through the Marine Life
Protection Act (MLPA).

The new implementation date will allow the state the time
it needs to review and finalize all the regulations and processes necessary to
put this landmark system of ocean protection in place. The underwater parks
were designed by southern California residents during a two-year public
process, with tens of thousands of divers, surfers, students, scientists, and
fishermen weighing in to ensure the protected zones would cover vital habitat
while allowing ongoing fishing along most of the coast. 

With so many people depending on the health of our ocean,
it is critical the state get these protections right, and that all the
regulations match up to the plans proposed by local stakeholders and approved
by the Fish and Game Commission.  While
we are eager to celebrate the grand opening of the new ocean parks, we
appreciate the state’s thoroughness and care. 

The marine protected areas will preserve local gems like
South La Jolla, Laguna and Point Dume. They will encompass approximately 15
percent of the region’s coastal waters, leaving the other 85 percent open to

You can read more about the south coast MLPA process here.


Legislative panel reviews south coast ocean protection plan

February 17th, 2011

The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture met today in Sacramento to review the ocean protection plan approved in December for California’s south coast as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) implementation process.  The Joint Committee heard presentations from MLPA Initiative and Department of Fish and Game staff as well as public testimony.

Agency staff, elected officials and stakeholders testified about the inclusiveness of MLPA planning efforts.  The Department received 18,000 emails during the south coast process, which included more than 50 public meetings with 150 hours of public comments.

Senator Pavley spoke about the strong science behind the Marine Life Protection Act, “I am impressed by the science available to back up the MLPA…Looking at the monitoring results from the Channel Islands, and based on scientific studies from around the world, we know that marine protected areas work.”

Senator Kehoe spoke about the proven benefits of marine protected areas as well, “Marine protected areas are essential to protecting species and habitats in our ocean wilderness, and restoring a thriving marine ecosystem that will benefit our oceans and fishermen.”

Lieutenant Governor Newsom sent a letter to the Joint Committee that offered support for the south coast plan, which he called a “balanced marine protected area network that protects the region’s most iconic ocean areas while leaving nearly 90 percent of state waters open for fishing.”

Newsom’s letter cited the economic importance of ocean protection for the state, since “Southern California’s coastal economy employs more than seven million people and contributes nearly $900 billion to the overall state economy,” and urged the Joint Committee’s “continued support for the Marine Life Protection Act.”

Assemblymember Chesbro, who chairs the Joint Committee, explained that the Committee does not have authority to make changes to the plan, and emphasized the importance of ongoing public participation as California works to complete the statewide marine protected area network called for under the MLPA.  He said, “It is critical that we have ocean users as partners in conservation.”


Support south coast ocean parks!

February 15th, 2011

On Thursday, February 17, the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture will meet in Sacramento to discuss the marine protected area plan recently adopted for California’s South Coast.  The plan would create a string of underwater parks that stretches from Santa Barbara to the border with Mexico, preserving some of southern California’s richest and most beloved ocean areas for current and future generations to enjoy.

Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, Chair of the Joint Committee, has convened the hearing as a follow-up to the January 21 meeting on the North Coast Marine Life Protection Act process, and the 38th Annual Fisheries Forum, which will be held on February 16.

The South Coast hearing will include brief presentations by MLPA Initiative and Fish and Game Commission staff as well as a public comment period. 

The current South Coast marine protected area plan was developed over two years of careful study and negotiations among local divers, fishermen, scientists, business owners, and conservationists.  It will protect iconic ocean areas like south La Jolla, Swamis Reef, Laguna, Point Dume, and Naples Reef while leaving nearly 90% of the coast open for fishing.  The community was overwhelmingly supportive of this plan, attending over 50 public meetings, providing more than 150 hours of testimony, and submitting tens of thousands of emails and letters urging protection of favorite surf, dive, tidepooling and kayaking areas. 

Members of the public are invited to attend the hearing from 10am-12pm at the State Capitol Building, Room 4202.

If you can’t attend in person, please consider writing Assemblymember Chesbro to voice your support for the common sense ocean protection plan adopted in December for southern California.  You can see the official map of the planned marine protected areas here.


Approved: Sweeping south coast ocean health plan

December 16th, 2010

In a landmark decision, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 yesterday to adopt a network of marine protected areas that will stretch from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. These protected areas will join others that dot the coast from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, forming part of the statewide system of underwater parks called for in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). 

The Commission voted in favor of a compromise plan that combined ideas from fishermen, divers, conservationists and scientists. The plan was designed to balance environmental and economic considerations. Peer-reviewed studies show that well-designed marine reserves boost fisheries yield and profits.  They also improve coastal tourism and
recreation opportunities, which are big business in southern California,
accounting for 80 cents out of every dollar spent by visitors.

Yesterday’s conservation milestone was heralded in media all over the state:

California has led the nation in establishing marine reserves, an idea conceived in response to steep population declines of rockfish, cod, lobster, abalone and other ocean dwellers despite catch limits and other fishing regulations. Scientists who helped draft the plan argued that some species could disappear entirely without fishing bans in a diverse assortment of underwater canyons, kelp forests, sandy seafloors and rocky reefs.

Commissioner Richard B. Rogers voted in favor of the plan, saying it struck an "elegant balance" between conservation and fishing interests. "The overarching goal is to return California to the sustainable abundance
I observed growing up," the lifelong scuba diver said.

Commissioner Michael Sutton, founding director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, called the protections "good news for everyone who cares about the future of our fisheries and the future of our marine ecosystems."
-- Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2010

The MLPA planning effort has sparked an incredible outpouring of public support from elected officials, local businesses, community organizations and scientists. Tens of thousands of southern Californians attended meetings, made public comments or signed petitions supporting improved ocean protection.
-- Dana Point Times, December 16, 2010

“It’s like a savings account for our ocean. Set a little aside so it can recuperate and thrive and we will all ... benefit from the interest.”
-- San Diego Union Tribune, December 15, 2010

Marcela Gutierrez with Wildcoast says a variety of groups and the public have been working for two years on plans to create the underwater parks. "This is a trailblazing effort. It's one of the first of its kind in the world. The whole conservation community is watching, and it's great for our coastal oceans going forward." Gutierrez says the MPAs ultimately will become fish nurseries that will benefit fishermen.
-- Public News Service, December 15, 2010

For more information visit


Heard at today's MLPA meeting

December 15th, 2010

More than 100 divers, surfers, fishermen, scientists, business people, and elected officials testified at today's Fish and Game Commission meeting on the Marine Life Protection Act.  A few of their comments follow:

“We are on the side of fishermen. Marine protected areas protect their business," said lifelong ocean activist Jean-Michel

“I was part of the research group that conducted the five year review of the Channel Islands marine reserves established in 2003. We found increased size, numbers, and overall biomass inside the protected areas, and those trends have continued. Now, we are starting to see patterns of density that show spillover into open areas,” said Dr. Jenn Caselle of UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute.

“Please create a blue belt to compliment our city's green belt," said Tony Soto, speaking for Laguna Beach Mayor Iseman.

"Now is the time to act and provide this much needed protection for our ocean ecosystems,” said Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

“Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is one of the many groups that stands ready to help the Department of Fish and Game with education, outreach, and monitoring,” said Kira Redmond, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

“I believe the Marine Life Protection Act is our best chance to preserve the beauty, majesty, and productivity of California’s iconic ocean places,” said Karen Garrison of Natural Resources Defense Council.

“As a realtor, I know people move to Santa Barbara because of our spectacular coast and ocean.  I support marine protected areas because they
are good for my business and our economy,” said Prudential California realtor Kalia Rork.


Tide turning in support of MLPA

November 10th, 2010

As southern California rounds the home stretch on its landmark ocean habitat planning effort, citizens are standing up in record numbers to support conservation. The California Fish and Game Commission will finalize plans for the south coast’s Marine Protected Area network at their December meeting in Santa Barbara.

The rising tide of support for ocean protection was clear, as divers, students, kayakers, surfers and conservationists formed a sea of blue at last month’s Fish and Game Commission meeting in San Diego.

More than 1,000 southern Californians attended in support of the compromise plan, and thousands more sent emails or signed petitions supporting an ocean protection plan that will keep the region’s sea life and economy healthy for years to come.

Southern Californian business leaders have come out strongly in support of Marine Protected Areas, citing the economic importance of a healthy ocean. To date 137 businesses, including Patagonia, Pacific Gallery, and Prudential Realty Group, have signed a letter in support of the Marine Life Protection Act, pointing to the 15 million jobs and nearly $800 billion in wages in the coastal economy that depend on a healthy, productive ocean. 

More than 2,500 people signed petitions on and telling the commissioners how important the waters of South La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Naples Reef, Swamis, Rocky Point, Point Dume and Catalina are to them.

Finally, the region’s elected officials have joined their voice to the chorus of support, with 47 city, county and state representatives signing letters in support of the MLPA. Six city councils have also passed resolutions in support of the effort.

Southern Californians have made it clear they support this effort to safeguard the health and beauty of California’s coastal waters for future generations.  This is by far the biggest expression of grassroots support for ocean habitat protection in California history – with six weeks to go!


Southern California ocean protection effort advances

March 5th, 2010

The California Fish and Game Commission held their meeting of the year on the Marine Life Protection Act in Ontario this week.  They heard over four hours of public testimony from seventy-five south coast residents, each weighing in on marine protected area plans for the south coast.
Many surfers, scientists, divers, and conservationists lobbied for stronger protections for iconic ocean areas like Rocky Point and south La Jolla, but the commission voted 3-2 to maintain the compromise plan known as the “Integrated Preferred Alternative” as their proposed project.
The compromise plan draws from three stakeholder proposals developed over a year of study and negotiations among different interest groups.  It would protect beloved ocean areas like Naples Reef, Dume underwater canyon, Laguna, and Swamis Reef while leaving the vast majority of the coast, including most of the region’s most popular fishing grounds, open for fishing. 

“We applaud the Commission’s decision move forward with this vital ocean protection effort,” said Greg Helms of the Ocean Conservancy. “New research unveiled at last month’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference shows that well-designed marine protected areas provide both economic and environmental benefits.  With so many southern California businesses depending on the health and productivity of our coastal waters, we can’t afford to delay protection.”
The Commission’s decision indicates initial support for the compromise plan, but a range of options will be analyzed in environmental review, including proposals developed by conservationists and fishermen. There will be further opportunities for public input at Commission hearings over the coming months, with a final decision expected later this year 
“The compromise plan is a step in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement,” said Marcela Gutierrez of WildCoast. “By strengthening the protections around Palos Verdes and south La Jolla, we can better meet the science and increase benefits for fish and fishermen.”
For more information on the Marine Life Protection Act, visit, or


Protecting fish AND fishing access

December 3rd, 2009

The compromise marine protected area plan for southern California recommended by the Blue Ribbon Task Force was designed to balance fishing access with conservation.  It includes protection for key feeding and breeding grounds like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Laguna, and south La Jolla, while leaving nearly 90% of south coast waters open for fishing.

The compromise plan (also known as the Integrated Preferred Alternative, or IPA) will not effect pier anglers at all, and will allow ongoing commercial and recreational fishing in popular spots like:

- Ellwood and Carpinteria Reefs in Santa Barbara County
- The entire coast of central and southern Ventura County
- Kelp beds in northern Los Angeles County
- Central Malibu and the Santa Monica Bay, including the eastern half of Big Kelp Reef
- The waters north of the Palos Verdes peninsula (including Rocky Point)
- All of Orange County, except Laguna
- North San Diego County, including the Oceanside Pier and Solana Beach kelp beds
- Northern La Jolla and Point Loma
- Most of Catalina Island

Click here to download a complete list (and map) of fishing areas left open under the BRTF's compromise plan.


South coast plan has "something for everyone"

November 17th, 2009

The San Diego Union Tribune calls the marine protected area plan recommended by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force "a good compromise."

The Task Force met on November 11 to finalize their recommendations after receiving more than 10,000 emails and hearing over ten hours of public comment.  This level of community participation shows how passionate southern Californians are about their coast and ocean--it's truly the region's most iconic attraction, and many local people rely on the sea's bounty to make a living.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force considered both the economy and environment when weighing options, and recommended a middle ground plan that balanced
the concerns of different user groups

In a November 17 editorial, the San Diego Union Tribune said the south coast plan "will be good for everyone in the long run if it allows our coastal bounty to grow and thrive."

And that is precisely what the marine protected area plan is designed to do.  By protecting biological hot spots like Naples Reef, south La Jolla, and Point Dume, it will help rebuild depleted fish populations and restore fragile ecosystems.


Investment banks for fish

November 12th, 2009

A new study by UC Santa Cruz biologists, published in the scientific journal PLos ONE, shows that marine reserves can restock waters outside of their boundaries, improving fishing conditions in nearby open areas. 

The biologists monitored 58 sites in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, on the
northern shore of the Gulf of California.
They found that baby fish born in marine reserves drifted along the coast, where they could be caught by local anglers. 

Study co-author Richard Cudney-Bueno describes marine reserves as investment banks for fish.  The more you invest in protecting big fertile fish (who produce exponentially more young--see graphic), the more interest you can collect as the babies disperse in ocean currents. 

He emphasized that the location of reserves is critical--you have to protect important feeding and breeding grounds in order to maximize returns.

Luckily, southern California's new marine protected area plan, unanimously approved by the governor-appointed Blue Ribbon Task Force on November 10, would create ocean sanctuaries where big fertile fish, and other plants and animals, can grow and multiply.


BRTF recommends compromise plan for south coast

November 10th, 2009

 The Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force today voted unanimously to recommend a compromise marine protected area plan for southern California’s coastal ocean. 

Their plan a step in the right direction, and includes critical protections for iconic places like south La Jolla, Point Dume, and Naples Reef while leaving nearly 90% of the coast open for fishing.   However, it falls short of scientists' recommendations at Rocky Point and Catalina Island. 

The Task Force will present their recommendation to the California Fish & Game Commission on December 9, and the Commission is expected to make a final decision early next year.  

The Marine Life Protection Act Science Advisory Team met yesterday to assess proposals for Santa Monica Bay, San Diego, and Orange County. They emphasized the important of protecting high quality habitats where fish and invertebrates feed and breed. 

By setting aside ecological hot spots--those super productive canyons, reefs, and kelp forests that act as fish nurseries--we can improve the overall health and sustainability of southern California's ocean and fisheries.


A sea change for Southern California?

October 26th, 2009

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle has logged more than 6500 hours underwater during her 50 years exploring the world's oceans.  She has seen many changes to plant and animal life over the years, and feels the ocean is now at a tipping point.  The good news, she says, is that we still have a chance to "tip things back in the right direction--if we act now."

The Marine Life Protection Act is our opportunity to create a sea change that will restore depleted sea life and habitats throughout California's coastal waters.  If we follow the science and create a strong, science-based marine protected area network, we can turn things around and leave a legacy of healthy oceans for our kids and grandkids.

In this Los Angeles Times opinion editorial, Sylvia explains why the conservation plan--or "Proposal 3"--is the best choice for southern California's ocean.  It will protect iconic places like south La Jolla, Naples Reef, Point Dume, and Laguna while leaving nearly 90% of the area open for fishing. 

The Los Angeles Times editorial board agrees--they too urge the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to recommend Proposal 3 to ensure south coast waters remain healthy and productive for generations to come. 

Dr. Earle likens marine protected areas to jewels on a necklace: treasured areas where kelp flourishes, fish and invertebrates grow and multiply, and divers, snorkelers, and scientists can glimpse marine life at its healthiest.

Join the Los Angeles Times, along with southern California divers, surfers, educators, conservationists, scientists, and kayakers in supporting meaningful protection for our special ocean places. 


South coast MPA plans available for public review

September 25th, 2009

The final three stakeholder plans for a south coast marine protected area network are now online.

After nearly a year of study and negotiations, the regional stakeholder group was divided into three teams: one focused on conservation, one on fishing, and a third “middle ground” team was charged with creating a compromise plan with cross-interest support.

The conservation group focused on quality over quantity, designing an efficient network that will deliver quick and substantial benefits with fewer protected areas. Their plan would protect ecological hot spots like Naples Reef, Point Dume, the western half of Rocky Point and the southern half of La Jolla’s reef while leaving nearly 90 percent of coastal waters open for fishing.

The middle ground plan tries to balance the needs of different user groups, but still includes some protection for key sites like Point Dume, Naples Reef and La Jolla.

The fishing group’s proposal would provide the least conservation benefits, since it was designed to leave the best habitat open for consumptive use. Their plan fails to provide any protections at iconic places like La Jolla, the Gaviota Coast and south Laguna.

The three plans each protect similar percentages of the ocean (16% total in marine protected areas, and about 12% in fully protected marine reserves). The real difference is the quality and diversity of habitat. Protecting better quality habitat will produce bigger gains in ecosystem health and productivity.


Healthy oceans are a common goal

September 9th, 2009

Fisherman, scientist, and retired Channel Islands National Park manager Gary Davis knows a fair bit about southern California's ocean. He started his career on the San Diego sport boats in the 1950's. Since that time, he's seen the big fish dwindling, until anglers are now fishing for the small Pacific mackerel they used to use as bait.

Davis has watched fishermen and conservationists at odds over plans to protect the ocean, and is urging them, and all southern California residents, to stop fighting over scraps and start focusing on the big picture. Healthy oceans benefit everyone.

Davis believes California needs an ocean nest egg--a little something set aside to ensure a prosperous, and sustainable future. A strong, science-based network of marine protected areas is an integral part of the solution.


South coast MPA proposals finalized this week

September 8th, 2009

South coast stakeholders are meeting today and tomorrow in Los Angeles to put the finishing touches on three alternative plans to protect coastal waters between Point Conception and the border with Mexico. The divers, anglers, surfers, business owners, and conservationists on the Regional Stakeholder Group have been divided into three teams--one represents primarily fishing interests, one is focused on conservation, and the third is a "middle ground" room that will work to find a compromise solution with cross-interest support.

As the marine protected area maps take shape, stakeholders are especially focused on key areas like Naples Reef in Santa Barbara and La Jolla in San Diego that provide great recreation, study, and conservation opportunities.

Members of the public are invited to attend the September 10 meeting and provide comments on the ocean protection plans under development. One community group, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commision, has weighed in with an official resolution of support for the creation of marine protected areas offshore from Point Dume and Palos Verdes Peninsula.


Marine protected areas will "re-seed" south coast waters

August 31st, 2009

Laguna resident Cindy Love comes from a fishing family. But she's seen some troubling changes to local fisheries in the decade since she dropped her first lobster net off San Clemente pier. In recent years, her nets have been coming home empty, and she's not the only one. The 2007-08 lobster catch was down by 25% from the previous season.

In order to turn things around, and restore the health and abundance to south coast waters, Cindy supports the creation of a strong network of marine reserves.


Coastal recreation is big business in southern California

August 27th, 2009

A new peer-reviewed study by economists Linwood Pendleton and Chris LaFranchi found that 93% of coastal recreation in southern California is non-consumptive. Swimming, diving, wildlife watching, surfing, and other no-take activities generate $115 million each year, driving more than 80% of ocean-related revenues, while fishing account for just 2%. The balance of spending comes from visitors who enjoy a mix of consumptive and non-consumptive activities.

The Pendleton and LaFranchi study was commissioned by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation to help inform efforts to protect southern California’s ocean. It found that non-consumptive ocean visitors spent 40 times more during their visits than sport and commercial fishermen.

This study confirms the findings from a June report by the National Ocean Economics Program, which showed that 75% of California's ocean-related jobs come from tourism and recreation. Protecting the natural resources that attract millions of visitors to the south coast each year is not just a moral obligation for local communities; it’s an economic imperative.


New film on the need to protect southern California's ocean

August 26th, 2009

The Baum Foundation has just released a great new film on the south coast Marine Life Protection Act process. Narrated by lifelong diver and Venice resident Lauren Hutton, "A Sheltered Sea: The Southern Passage" highlights the best of Southern California's coast and ocean. It features interviews with local surfers (including Rob Machado), conservationists, anglers, and scientists, who explain what makes the region so special, and why it is critical to protect the area's marine life.


South coast stakeholders finalize ocean protection plans

August 23rd, 2009

This month, the divers, anglers, conservationists, and business owners on the south coast regional stakeholder group are putting the finishing touches on ocean protection plans for Southern California. On September 9 and 10, they will meet in Los Angeles to hear public comments and finalize draft proposals for a network of marine protected areas that will stretch from Santa Barbara to the border with Mexico.

Stakeholders have been divided into three groups, representing fishing interests, conservationists, and a middle ground group representing a cross-section of the southern California community. The middle ground group has been asked to find common ground among different ocean users, and develop a compromise solution everyone can live with.

Each group will propose a network of marine protected areas designed to preserve sea life and habitats while leaving the vast majority of coastal waters open for fishing. The new protected areas are like underwater parks--they allow plants and animals to thrive while providing great recreation and study opportunities for people. 

To get involved, become a fan of the ocean on Facebook (, or send an email to supporting protection for your favorite dive or surf spot.