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Preserving California’s Fisheries

Preserving California's Fisheries.webThe waters off California’s coastline boast some of the most productive fisheries in the world, and as a result, the state is defined by its rich fishing heritage. The OPC is committed to preserving and restoring California’s valuable fisheries and the communities and people that depend on them.

California’s fisheries are faced with many threats including pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, and climate change. Each of these challenges can contribute to declines in fish numbers and changes in distribution that in turn threaten fisheries and associated businesses. Pursing innovative policies and projects to help restore and promote our fisheries is a top priority for the OPC. The OPC views its mandate as an opportunity to address the underlying problems facing California’s fisheries, not just the symptoms.

The OPC is working to improve fisheries management throughout California by pursuing innovative community-based or cooperative management and supporting further implementation of the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). The Marine Life Management Act Lessons Learned Study is an ongoing study being led by a six-member team to evaluate the successes and challenges of the implementation of the MLMA. The evaluation will provide recommendations to assist future MLMA efforts by the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and California Fish and Game Commission (Commission). The Collaborative Fisheries Research (CFR) Organization will be a venue for commercial and recreational fishermen, academic scientists, coastal managers, tribes, non-governmental organizations, and funders to discuss and prioritize existing and emerging fisheries management data needs. Once established, the CFR Organization will also provide grant funding to support collaborative research projects that address these needs.

A primary focus of the OPC is to provide grant funding that directly supports fishermen, communities, and businesses that are willing to investigate and pursue new management approaches. In 2009, the OPC released the California Fisheries Challenge, a competitive grant program that offers fishermen and communities in the state an opportunity to submit proposals that will improve and sustain long-term fishery health and sustainability. The California Fisheries Fund is another innovative undertaking that offers loans to California fishing communities, groups, associations, and businesses to assist in transitioning to more environmentally and economically sustainable fishing practices and governance. This is particularly important when conventional investment capital or loans from traditional financial institutions may not be available. The first loans and lines of credit from the California Fisheries Fund were distributed to a fisherman, a dockside fish buyer, and a distribution company from the Central Coast in 2009.

Much of the OPC’s fishery work is also aimed at partnering with DFG to more fully achieve its mandate. In 2006, the OPC and DFG developed the Joint Workplan, which included a wide variety of projects funded through an $8 million appropriation. These projects focus on collecting and analyzing essential data to apply to the decision-making process and improving DFG vessels and equipment. The data collected pertains to marine ecology, essential habitats, species interactions, natural processes that affect fish populations, survey techniques, and data report methods.

The OPC tackles important fisheries issues by working with a wide range of stakeholders including commercial and recreation fishermen, state and federal fisheries managers (California Department of Fish and Game, the California Fish and Game Commission, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NGOs, academia, tribes, and others.

Related Projects

  • Central Coast Groundfish Project
  • Dungeness Crab Task Force
  • Morro Bay Ecosystem-based Management Program
  • Moss Landing Sustainable Fishing Feasibility Study
  • San Diego Sea Urchin Fishery Project: A Model for Community Involvement in Science-based Management and Value-added Marketing
  • San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Sustainable Seafood Market
  • Transitioning San Luis Obispo County Harbors and Commercial Fisheries to a Sustainable Future

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