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.
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.
Mark your calendars: Saturday, January 21 is the fourth annual Underwater Parks Day. It’s a time to celebrate California’s other state parks…the ones in the ocean!
There is a lot to celebrate in Southern California, where a new network of underwater parks, or “marine protected areas,” was created on January 1 to protect coastal jewels like south La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, and Naples Reef. South coast aquaria will have interactive exhibits, videos, speakers, and tidepool tours to introduce local residents to the sea creatures these undersea refuges are designed to shelter. Click here to find an event near you.
If you prefer to celebrate outside, consider joining Santa Barbara Channelkeeper for a kayak tour of Campus Point, or a Goleta River clean-up. Or help Heal the Bay clean up Westward Beach before
enjoying a guided nature walk of Point Dume.
If you live in Orange County, and consider yourself a sharpshooter, why not enter Laguna Bluebelt’s photo contest . From Crystal Cove to Dana Point, the Orange County coastline has several
underwater parks that offer stunning vistas and thriving sea life.
If you’re in Northern California, please considering joining Half Moon Bay Surf Club, Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Conservancy to celebrate Underwater Parks Day with a beach cleanup at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay.
Lastly, if you want to learn more about the new underwater park at the mouth of the Tijuana River, come on out February 4 to take a guided nature walk and hear special guest speaker Dr. Octavio Aburto from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography talk about the aquarium of the world, Baja’s Cabo Pulmo. The Cabo Pulmo marine protected area boosted fish numbers by a record-breaking 463% over 10 years.
We look forward to seeing California’s sea life flourish like Baja’s, thanks to the system of marine protected areas our state is creating through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)!
The New Year brought new protections for some of southern California’s most iconic coastal areas, including La Jolla, Laguna, Santa Monica Bay, and Catalina Island. On January 1, the state celebrated the grand opening of a string of underwater parks that stretches from Point Conception to the border with Mexico.
These “marine protected areas” form the southern section of the statewide network called for under California’s landmark Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The network will be complete once planning is finished for the far north coast region, later this year.
Stanford biologist Larry Crowder explained the importance of this network approach on KPCC public radio: “California made a really innovative step here, to link marine protected areas in a network... this helps fish and other marine life feed and breed…a single protected area doesn’t achieve what a network of linked protected areas would do.”
Dozens of scientific studies have shown that marine protected areas boost fisheries health and resilience, which is good news for California fishermen, since 2011 saw the collapse of kelp and barred sand bass and depleted halibut populations that led Marina del Rey anglers to open their famous halibut derby to other species.
The news about California’s new underwater parks was heralded in press all over the state, including Capital Public Radio, Coastline Pilot, Laguna Beach Independent, Malibu Daily Breeze, and Ventura County Star, which quoted Ocean Conservancy’s Greg Helms:
"By protecting hot spots like South La Jolla, Point Dume and Laguna, we are charting a course towards greater sustainability, and that means better fishing, diving, kayaking, tidepooling and birding for our children.”
Southern California residents were overwhelmingly supportive of the protections during the two-year public planning process. According to the Los Angeles Times many are already involved in citizen science and monitoring programs to help ensure their success. As the San
Diego Tribune notes, fishermen and university scientists are working with volunteer groups like Reef Check on a baseline study that will help inform future management discussions.
Tomorrow, Southern California will celebrate the grand opening of a series of underwater parks, or “marine protected areas,” that includes wildlife hot spots such as the La Jolla kelp forest, Laguna tidepools, and Catalina Island's coral gardens. These parks will join a growing system that currently dots the shore from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, and will soon stretch the length of California’s coast.
California will be the first state in the nation to develop a science-based statewide network of marine protected areas, protecting productive reefs, kelp forests and tide pools. The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), enacted in 1999 with bipartisan support, called for this network of protections to improve the health of California’s ocean wildlife and habitats.
“Our nation has been protecting treasured areas on land for 150 years, and now California is doing the same for our ocean, through the Marine Life Protection Act,” said Karen Garrison, Oceans Program Co-Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “From Point Reyes to Big Sur to La Jolla, the state is creating Yosemites of the sea so future generations can experience their grandeur.”
“After decades of treating the ocean as inexhaustible, California has turned the tide towards restoring its legacy of abundant sea life,” said Kaitilin Gaffney, Pacific Program Director of Ocean Conservancy. “California’s new protected areas are a smart investment in a healthier ocean and a more sustainable coastal economy.”
The marine protected areas going into effect January 1 were designed by local citizens, including fishermen, surfers, conservationists and business leaders, to protect productive ocean areas while leaving about 90% of the coast open for fishing (see a map of fishing areas left open). Many of the are located alongside public beaches and state parks, creating great opportunities for education, research, and recreation.
California’s coast and ocean generate $22 billion in revenue and drive over 350,000 jobs each year, and more than 90 percent of visitors comes to walk the beach, dive, surf, swim, or kayak, making the new ocean parks a smart investment in the region's environmental and economic health.
On January 1, California will celebrate the grand opening of a series of underwater parks along the south coast. Enjoy this visual tour!
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.
These coastal hotspots provide a window into the underwater world. From sea stars to anemones and fish to colorful nudibranchs, sharp-eyed visitors can see myriad plants and animals, often guided by volunteer docents.
Many of California's best tidepooling sites are marine protected areas, or underwater parks, which have been set aside to allow wildlife to thrive and people to enjoy nature. These marine protected areas are often located alongside state and county beaches, connecting land and sea, and offering great opportunities for bird and mammal watching, hiking, kayaking, and other activities.
To make sure the tidepools remain healthy and vibrant for future visitors, its important to practice good etiquette. This guide from Orange County Marine Protected Area Council has rules for being a good tidepooler, and this page from the California Department of Fish and Game includes great resources for teachers planning school field trips.
According to a recent article by Yale 360, the acidification of our oceans from an excess of carbon dioxide emissions has already begun. A recent die-off of oysters in the Pacific Northwest is a reminder that these changes to ocean conditions will have widespread impacts throughout the ocean food chain and coastal economies.
Scientists in the article called oysters a bellweather, and say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar. The fate of today's shellfish is actually dependent on the carbon release from tailpipes and smokestacks in the 1960's and '70s.
Because of the way seawater circulates around the world, the deep water now washing ashore in Oregon and Washington is actually 30 to 50 years old. This time lag is important because oceans absorb about 50 percent of the carbon released by burning fossil fuels, emissions that have been rising dramatically in recent decades.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ocean acidity has increased approximately 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and if we continue our current rate of carbon emissions, global oceans could be 150 percent more acidic by the end of the century than they have been for 20 million years.
As Ocean Conservancy's Kaitilin Gaffney notes, the parade of sea life that swims and flies along our coast each fall has just begun. November brings thousands of gray whales headed south on their more than 6,000 mile migration from summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas to calving grounds in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico's Baja peninsula.
You can watch them from Point Reyes, Big Sur, or Davenport, north of Santa Cruz, where you can often see whales cruise by from the bluffs overlooking the sea.
Winter is also a great time to see elephant seals. From December to March they can be seen hauled out on California beaches at Point Reyes, Año Nuevo and Piedras Blancas where they mate, fight and give birth.
In addition to mammal sightings, this time of year brings great opportunities for birdwatching. Many seabirds spend their winters enjoying the relatively mild climate and reliable food supply of Monterey Bay. January brings murres, auklets, and other open-ocean birds in from their normal offshore habitat to calmer coastal waters.
Areas like Monterey Bay, Point Reyes, and the Farallon Islands have been set aside as marine protected areas or sanctuaries to help protect the wildlife that delights visitors.
Right now, California is working to expand its marine protected area system through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This landmark effort brings fishermen, scientists, conservationists, business leaders and recreational ocean users together to map out a statewide network of ocean refuges that will keep special places from Del Norte County to San Diego full of ocean life.
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