CalOceans News

Showing all articles with tag: north coast.

North coast marine plan heralded in Press Democrat

March 5th, 2012

We’ve written before about the effort to establish the North Coast marine protected area network that ranges from Mendocino County north to the Oregon border.  Yesterday the Press Democrat sized up the importance of this historic achievement. The positive article looks at how consensus was reached by diverse stakeholders.

And it includes comments from Bodega Bay charter boat captain Rick Powers on what it's been like to fish under the already-established North Central Coast Marine Protected Areas. The article states:

Compliance appeared to be ‘excellent’ with the 21 protected areas on the coastal stretch that includes Sonoma County. ”It hasn't hampered our efforts,” Powers said, “and although I can't speak for them, most of the commercial fishermen would probably agree.”

In other news, a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the region has been completed. A 45-day public comment period on the DEIR will feature hearings in Fort Bragg, Crescent City and Eureka. Check out the link above for more information on how to obtain copies of the report.


Photos of Noyo's fishing heydey

February 21st, 2012

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and these historical photos from Noyo Harbor, at the south end of Fort Bragg, tell a more vivid story about Northern California's rich fishing heritage than any list of numbers. The photos show halibut the size of full grown men, and decks overflowing with the day's catch.

Fishing has been a part of the area's way of life for as long as people have lived there. And that is precisely why north coast residents are so intent on protecting their ocean resources.

Fortunately, local fishermen are working alongside conservationists, businesses, tribal leaders and government groups on an ocean protection plantailored for the region's unique socioeconomic and environmental conditions. The Marine Life Protection Act has brought these stakeholders together to plan a system of sea life refuges that balances protection of key breeding and feeding grounds with tribal and fishing access.

The community's marine protected area plan has earned support from state decisionmakers, with some adjustments to accommodate traditional tribal harvest. The plan is expected to be finalized later this year.


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.


Preserving the Ocean and Tribal Way of Life on the North Coast

October 28th, 2011

“Much work remains to build long-term trust between California and the many tribes of this state. But an important page has been turned.” – Hawk Rosales, InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council

In all the years of planning, meetings and compromises that have gone into making the Marine Life Protection Act a success, the stakeholder partnership taking place in the North Coast has to be the most impressive. They did, after all, come up with the only unanimous proposal for network of Marine Protected Areas for the region (the North Coast network is expected to be finalized next year).

But there was a hitch in the plan. Traditional tribal harvest wasn’t accounted for in the MLPA, and the new protections for the North Coast overlapped with the tribes’ historic harvesting sites. In an op-ed in today’s Sacramento Bee, Hawk Rosales of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council  describes the positive, constructive steps the tribes and the state have made in reaching agreement on a plan that preserves tribal rights while safeguarding California’s iconic coastal waters.

Despite historic injustices perpetrated by the state against native peoples, Rosales says “recent events offer hope that, at last, a new era is beginning.”

From the piece:

For the tribes, protection of the ocean and traditional cultural use of marine resources are inseparable ideas. Without careful stewardship, the ocean's gifts will steadily decline and may someday vanish. North Coast residents, including fishermen, harbor districts and conservation groups, stood in solidarity with the tribes.

Rosales praises state officials, including Resources Secretary John Laird and members and staff of the MLPA Initiative, for carefully considering tribal concerns. This story is a testament to the public, inclusive nature of the MLPA: coming together to make ocean management decisions that protect marine life while being respectful of the needs of all ocean users.


Protecting California's north coast

June 3rd, 2011

One of the coolest things about California's ocean protection planning, through the Marine Life Protection Act, has been the public involvement.  Our state's new underwater parks are being mapped out by local residents, one section of the coast at a time. With so many people relying on the ocean for work and play, there are a lot of different viewpoints. But everyone shares a commitment to improving ocean health, and nowhere has this been more apparent than on the north coast, where community stakeholders came together to propose a single unified plan supported by government officials, fishing groups, and conservationists.

The north coast unified proposal would protect iconic places like Ten-Mile Beach, south Cape Mendocino, and Pyramid Point while leaving all north coast harbors open, and allowing ongoing traditional tribal harvest. It is a balanced solution that considers the circumstances unique to that region. 

The unified plan won approval from the Governor's MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, and is currently under consideration by the California Fish and Game Commission.


Positive tone continues on the north coast

March 7th, 2011

As the unified proposal for a network of marine protected areas in the north coast continues to move forward, the State of California is scrambling to find a way to honor traditional tribal uses without sacrificing much-needed protections for northern coastal waters. Humboldt County’s North County Journal published an article last week on the search for a solution, a process in which tribal leaders, state officials and conservationists expressing a shared desire to balance the needs of conservation with the cultural traditions of native tribes.

The search for a solution has a positive and collaborative tone, and we at CalOceans hope to see it brought to a successful conclusion. And it’s encouraging to recall that we’ve seen issues of tribal rights successfully and fairly negotiated in the south, central and north-central regions. Following a directive from California Resources Secretary John Laird, the Fish and Game  will work with tribal parties to ensure both the Marine Life Protection Act and tribal traditions are respected.  From the article:

“We’ve had a couple meetings with Secretary Laird and his assistant. They expressed a will to work with us to come up with a solution that we can all live with... I believe that we all have the same goal in common, and that is to manage and protect our resources in as safe a way as possible, and that can only be done through a joint effort.” - Yurok Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke Sr.

Jennifer Savage with the Ocean Conservancy agrees. “Both the local community and the Blue Ribbon Task Force have been steadfast in supporting traditional, non-commercial tribal uses within Marine Protected Areas.”

The North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group made up of fishermen, conservationists, scientists, recreational ocean user and local businesses created the unified proposal last year to meet the ecological requirements of the MLPA while minimizing socioeconomic impacts. The plan, which enjoys broad support from north coast residents and elected officials, has been approved by the Blue Ribbon Task Force and is currently under review by the Fish and Game Commission.


Commission supports north coast community plan

February 2nd, 2011

Today, the California Fish and Game Commission met in Sacramento
to begin considering protections for the state’s far north coast. For the first time in the six-year MLPA process, the Commission received a unified marine protected area plan.

The unified plan was designed by north coast fishermen, conservationists, business owners, and tribal leaders, and endorsed unanimously by policy experts on the Blue Ribbon Task Force. 

North coast stakeholders were the only regional group to agree on a single plan, rather than sending on competing alternatives for state officials to compare. The plan would protect about 13% of state waters between Alder Creek and the Oregon border, including Ten-Mile, South Cape Mendocino,
Reading Rock and Pyramid Point.  It would also protect traditional tribal
harvest, and avoid harbors to ensure safe access to fishing grounds for local

The local plan has the support of all of the coastal cities, countries and
harbor districts in the North Coast as well as more than 40 fishing, environmental and agency groups, and the broad community approval was evident during the public comment session at today’s meeting, in which 70 citizens spoke about the importance of a healthy ocean for the north coast’s economy and way of life.

In the end the Commission offered unanimous support for the stakeholder proposal and directed staff to follow the guidance provided at the beginning of the meeting by Resources Secretary John Laird to try to identify a path forward that would respect continued tribal traditional uses in north coast marine protected areas.

The Commission will consider the north coast MLPA again at their April meeting in Folsom.


Shoulder to shoulder on the North Coast

January 25th, 2011

While the approval of a network of marine protected areas for southern California has hogged all the recent press on the Marine Life Protection Act, the North Coast process has been moving along right on schedule.

In fact, we’re only a week away from the Fish and Game Commission
at which the North Coast's landmark unified proposal will be presented.

So it’s good to read articles like this one that show the strength in solidarity of the North Coast community. Fishers, environmentalists, tribes, recreational users, and local businesses stood up at a hearing last week in Eureka to reiterate their support for the Unified Proposal.

Under the plan, 13 percent of state waters will be protected through the creation of 17 marine protected areas. The plan, developed by the North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group, earned unanimous support from the Blue Ribbon Task Force in October.

While the Regional Stakeholder Group--which includes representatives from the conservation, business, tribal, and fishing communities--started out working at cross purposes, they found common ground in their desire to balance the region's economic and environmental health, protect tribal harvest, and embrace the opportunity for self-determination. 

We hope they can maintain this unity, and continue to focus on the public benefits of smart and science-based ocean protection throughout the Commission process!


State officials back north coast ocean plan

October 27th, 2010

Yesterday, the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force voted unanimously to recommend the marine protected area plan developed by local stakeholders for state waters between Point Arena to the border with Oregon.

The north coast was the first region to submit a unified plan supported by both fishermen and conservationists, and the residents of Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte Counties are urging state decision makers to respect their shared vision for sustainable ocean management. 

After nearly a year of study and negotiations, the divers, fishermen, seaweed harvesters, tribal and business leaders, and conservationists tasked with designing marine protected areas for the north coast came together to develop a unified plan that balances economic and environmental concerns. The group agreed on the need to protect tribal harvest and fishing access.

The stakeholder plan was developed with public input gathered during
300 hours of meetings, in addition to 20 public workshops. It would
protect about 13 percent of state waters, including treasured areas
like Reading Rock, South Cape Mendocino and Ten-Mile Beach. The plan
would maintain fishing access at all North Coast harbors and allow
ongoing traditional, non-commercial tribal harvest.

During their two day hearing, the Blue Ribbon Task Force heard from the stakeholders, as well as science advisors and members of the public before passing a motion supporting the unified plan. Final authority rests with the Fish and Game Commission, who will make a final decision in 2011.


North coast ocean stewards working together

July 14th, 2010

One of the amazing things about California’s coastline is how diverse it is. The central part of the coast bears almost no resemblance to the southern portion, both with their own stunning array of sea life and habitat types, from rocky reefs to kelp forests and pillars.

The north coast of California is similarly unique—and this region has been subject to far less human interference, leaving its fisheries relatively healthy compared to their southern counterparts (you can, for example, still harvest abalone on the north coast, in limited quantities). It is a region with a rich history of living with and off the sea, and through the MLPA, we have a great chance to keep its traditional commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing practices alive and well.

This op-ed in the Eureka Times-Standard by former Assemblywoman and Sonoma resident Virginia Strom-Martin, who sits on the MLPA’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, tells the story of the north coast’s efforts to create a holistic plan for ocean conservation, calling it the most open and transparent process she’s ever been involved in.

Last week, north coast residents had a chance to learn and ask questions about the ongoing marine protected area selection process at a series of Open Houses throughout the region. Now the regional stakeholders will gather to reach a consensus on a final network of MPAs to present to the Fish and Game Commission later this year.

As Strom-Martin says, “It is only by working together that we can ensure a healthy ocean and successfully teach future generations to be good stewards for our precious community assets.” Hear-hear, and kudos to all the north coasters working to create a legacy of ocean health for their part of California.


Learn More about MPAs on the North Coast - Open Houses Coming Soon

June 24th, 2010

Open houses have been scheduled in Northern California for the public to review and provide input on four draft proposals developed through the Marine Life Protection  Act (MLPA) Initiative. The open houses will focus on draft MPA proposals for the North Coast Study Region, which covers state waters from the  California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.

Members of the public are invited to attend at any time during the day and evening sessions – in five locations throughout the study region – to visit informational stations and offer input.

Members of the MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group developed the draft MPA proposals during Round 2 of a three-round planning process. They will be on hand to answer questions and discuss how these ideas will help meet the goals of improved marine life, habitats and overall ecosystem health. MLPA Initiative staff, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) staff, California State Parks staff and members of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task
Force will also be available. 

The five open houses are scheduled for:
Fort Bragg - Tuesday, July 6 (5:00-7:30 PM)
Briceland - Wednesday, July 7, (8:00-10:00 a.m.)
Eureka - Wednesday, July 7 (5:00-7:30 p.m.)
Orick - Thursday, July 8, 2010 (11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)
Crescent City - Thursday, July 8, 2010 (5:00-7:30 p.m.)

If you cannot attend, you are welcome to view the proposals online and offer your comments.


Goldilocks and the north coast

May 18th, 2010

 It’s all about finding that balance, as Humboldt Baykeeper’s Pete Nichols notes, between the immediate demands of our fishing economy and the long-term goal of a healthy California ocean. Somewhere in the midst of all the Marine Life Protection Act meetings and proposals lies the “just right” compromise.

This recent article from the Eureka Times-Standard reminds us to keep the Big Picture goal of a marine protected area network that works for the whole North Coast in mind – and what better way to regain that perspective than to take in the coast from 1,000 feet? You can literally see it all.

LightHawk, a nonprofit organization that operates under the slogan of “championing environmental protection through the unique perspective of flight,” provided the aerial tour with the help of The Ocean Conservancy and Humboldt Baykeeper. Lighthawk hopes to offer several more tours to different interest groups and decision-makers as the North Coast process moves ahead.

Saturday's flights included members of the media, a member of the science advisory team and a member of the regional stakeholders group, who were toured around by volunteer LightHawk pilots Lew Nash and Mike Sutton.


North coast MPA planning gets underway

February 4th, 2010

After several months of public outreach and education, the north coast Regional Stakeholder Group process--where local leaders representing a variety of industries and interests will work together to map out a network of marine protected areas that will extend from Point Arena to Oregin--is ready to begin.

The north coast Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) includes members of the conservation, fishing, business, tribal, science, and education communities.  Many of them worked together in the Tri-County Working Group to find common ground ahead of the RSG process.

The first north coast RSG meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka on February 8 and 9.  Click here for information about all upcoming MLPA meetings on the north coast.


Mendocino Students Weigh in on MLPA

December 11th, 2009

When it comes to natural resource management, we often talk about our responsibility to future generations. But rarely do those generations take an active role in decision-making.

Enter the 20 students of Mendocino High’s School of Natural Resources (SONAR),  who are engaging in the Marine Life Protection Act implementation process to ensure the resulting ocean protection plan truly serves their interests.
These kids are part of a grant-funded “school within a school,” and they’re developing their own North Coast marine protected area plan to submit to the Fish and Game Commission in February, where it will be considered alongside a county-led proposal prepared by fishermen, scientists, and environmental groups.
The students are following science guidelines, gathering input from ocean users and attending town hall and regional stakeholder meetings.

They bring a refreshingly apolitical perspective to this issue. And, if their past science work is any indication, we can expect their MPA proposal to be both credible and reasonable: The Department of Fish and Game uses salmon data the class collected for the Little North Fork of Big River, and they are considering a formal submission to a scientific journal on a new colony of fairy shrimp they discovered in a vernal pool.

The class has set up a group email through which you can contact them. Read more about their plans in today’s Mendocino Beacon