San Francisco Eelgrass and Oyster Restoration Projects

San Francisco Bay is North America’s most biologically rich estuary.  Eelgrass and oysters are important foundational species in the San Francisco Bay.  Eelgrass beds provide food, shelter, and spawning grounds for a diverse assemblage of native species, including economically-significant fisheries such as Pacific herring.  Native oysters are also an important  species in the Bay and help to improve water quality. These valuable resources have, however, suffered degradation in San Francisco Bay due largely to the impacts of development.

The  San Francisco Eelgrass and Oyster Restoration projects were designed to improve scientific understanding of restoration techniques for valuable shallow subtidal habitats.  These projects were supported by numerous partners, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the California State Coastal Conservancy, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the California Department of Fish and Game, San Francisco State University, the Romberg Tiburon Center, the Bodega Marine Laboratory of the University of California at Davis, Save the Bay, Audubon Center, the Marine Science Institute, and the Marin Rod and Gun Club.The results of these projects will directly feed into the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project and long-term vision for restoration in San Francisco Bay.

Eelgrass Restoration Project

This project included identifying suitable restoration site locations, and designing and testing appropriate restoration methodologies and techniques via pilot projects.  Results were incorporated into the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project Report as an appendix – Eelgrass Conservation and Restoration in San Francisco Bay: Opportunities and Constraints.

Native Oyster Restoration Project

This project included surveying oyster distribution, collecting data on diseases and predators, and developing a baywide restoration plan.  Results were incorporated into the Shellfish Conservation and Restoration in San Francisco Bay: Opportunities and Constraints for the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Goals Project and summarized in the following final report, Planning for Native Oyster Restoration in San Francisco Bay.

Council Documents

OPC Staff Recommendation (June 2005)

San Diego Sea Urchin Fishery Project

In 2006, OPC awarded a grant to the San Diego Watermen’s Association (SDWA) to assist the sea urchin fishery in San Diego in its efforts to build long-term sustainability.  The SDWA effort focused on three activities which were considered critical for developing responsible harvesting practices, collecting and distributing a high value product, and perpetuating local-level stewardship of the sea urchin fishery.  They were:

1) Transforming the sea urchin fishery in the San Diego area from a data-poor status to one based on good fishery-dependent and independent scientific data and models.

2) Developing a model for high-quality collaborative research between fishery scientists and the fishing community, building on the benefits of resource stewardship and information sharing by sea urchin fishermen.

3) Shifting the local sea urchin market to a value-based system that benefits fishermen and the consumer.

The SDWA project served as a successful model for establishing leadership within a fishing community to  improve data on fisheries and build collaborative relationships with fishery scientists and managers.  The project also initiated efforts to develop approaches for improving urchin markets;  SDWA is continuing to work on these business strategies.

Staff Recommendations/Project Documents

OPC Staff Recommendation (November 2006)

Final Report (November 2008)

Final Report Appendices (November 2008)

Collaborative Fisheries Research Organization

Collaborative Fisheries Research

Collaborative fisheries research (CFR) involves creating partnerships among fisheries stakeholders (commercial and recreational fishermen, university scientists and fisheries scientists, coastal managers, NGOs, funders, and tribes) to encourage collaboration on fisheries research design, including defining goals and research questions, and to ensure that necessary data gathered in a manner that will improve fisheries management.  The clear benefit of collaborative research is fishermen participating in the collection of data. They are also able to provide an “on-the-water service” by making available their fishing vessels, equipment, etc., to CFR projects. The degree of collaboration that takes place on fisheries research projects can vary and strongly depends on the questions driving the needs and stakeholders involved.

2008 CFR Workshop

this collaborative endeavor came after OPC staff and the
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COLLABORATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH ORGANIZATION
Resources Legacy Fund Foundation convened a CFR workshop in Oakland, California on April 29-30, 2008.
On April 29-30, 2008, OPC staff and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation convened a workshop on Collaborative Fisheries Research in Oakland, CA.  Nearly 70 invited stakeholders participated in the workshop including representatives from West Coast commercial and recreational fishing groups, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), NOAA Fisheries, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), Sea Grant, several California universities, the Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund.  At the workshop participants expressed strong support for establishing a formal CFR organization in California and an interest in coordinating with complementary state or federal programs or research initiatives along the West Coast.

Establishing a CFR Organization

In September 2008, the OPC authorized disbursement of up to $300,000 to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) to create a collaborative fisheries research (CFR) organization in California.  The CFR organization will develop, solicit, and fund projects with the goal of creating partnerships between fishermen and scientists to develop and collect fisheries data necessary to the Department of Fish and Game, the Fish and Game Commission, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Ocean Protection Council.

This establishment of the CFR program was delayed due to the state bond freeze, however,  it was restarted in late 2009.  The PSMFC is now making progress in establishing the CFR organization.

In November 2010, the OPC authorized disbursement of up to $1,500,000 to the PSMFC and the University of California Sea Grant Program to continue to build the organization and to fund the actual research projects.  The goal is to leverage substantially greater and more stable funding sources from the federal government.

Council Documents
2008 CFR Workshop Summary

Staff Recommendation (September 2008)

Staff Recommendation (November 2010)

 

California Aquaculture Programmatic EIR

Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 30411(e) required the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to prepare programmatic environmental impact reports (PEIRs) for both coastal and inland commercial aquaculture projects. DFG contracted for the preparation of the draft environmental documents in 2003, but subsequently concluded that these documents were inadequate. DFG lacked sufficient resources to redraft and complete these PEIRs and additional funds from the aquaculture industry were not available to improve the initial reports.

On May 26, 2006, Senate Bill 201 was signed into law which repealed the previous aquaculture PEIR requirements and created a new section in the Fish and Game Code for developing these documents. This new section established criteria for the coastal aquaculture PEIR to be completed by DFG including extensive requirements to be addressed by marine finfish aquaculture applicants.

The certified PEIR for marine aquaculture can serve as the first tier of CEQA review for proposed aquaculture operations.  The PEIR can also serve as a guidance document for potential project sponsors in alerting them to the potential environmental impacts and the need to avoid or mitigate those impacts. The PEIR may also serve as an educational tool for interested parties that may have concerns about commercial marine aquaculture development.

The Department of Fish and Game lacked the necessary funds to complete the PEIR, necessitating the financial contribution from the Ocean Protection Council.

The PEIR is currently still under development.

Council Documents

Staff Recommendation (June 2006)

Staff Recommendation (November 2010)

OPC-DFG Joint Work Plan

Background

California’s 2006 Budget Act appropriated $8 million to the California Ocean Protection Council for the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). The Budget Act called for these funds to be expended “pursuant to a work plan developed jointly by the OPC and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).” An additional $2 million was appropriated to DFG to fulfill these same goals. To maximize the effectiveness of these associated appropriations, OPC and DFG created a joint work plan that set forth priorities for the complete $10 million.

 

The OPC-DFG Joint Work Plan was aimed at collecting, analyzing, and applying data essential to the implementation of the MLPA and the MLMA.  Work plan projects focused on three activities: (1) improving methods and collection of fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data; (2) monitoring to inform the management of marine protected areas (MPAs); and (3) equipment improvements to ensure capacity to collect and manage data.  Data and results collected as part of this effort will support MPA monitoring and evaluation, which is being led by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise in collaboration with DFG.

Work Plan Projects

  • Baseline CentralCoast_Report_Covermonitoring of California’s Central Coast marine protected areas (MPAs) –   $2,275,000 was provided for socioeconomic and ecological baseline data collection of the MLPA Central Coast Study Region necessary for future evaluations of ecosystem and socioeconomic changes inside and outside of this region’s MPAs.  Six research projects were funded to implement a program of baseline data collection following a competitive process led by OPC, DFG, and California Sea Grant. A final report is available here.
  • Seafloor and marine habitat maps for the MLPA North Central Coast Study Region –  The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation granted $2,510,000 (of which $1,200,000 was funded by OPC and $1,000,000 from DFG, and the remainder from additional partners) to California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Fugro Pelagos for fieldwork, and CSUMB, Moss Landing Marine Lab and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for data interpretation and data products.  Together, these efforts resulted in accurate benthic habitat maps that were critical to the selection, design, and analysis of the newly designated marine protected areas in the central coast and north central coast regions as part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.  The success of this pilot effort led to the full implementation of the California Seafloor Mapping Program.
  • SCUBA surveys of the Channel Islands Marine Reserves – $371,187 was awarded to University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) PISCO and $210, 668 was awarded to the National Park Service Kelp Forest Monitoring (KFM) program conducted collaborative fish and benthic surveys in 2007 and 2008.  These surveys used methods consistent with PISCO and KFM long-term monitoring of these reserves, and recorded density and size structure of fishes, invertebrates, and algae inside and outside of numerous reserves. The data were incorporated into the existing datasets and made available through the PISCO data catalogue to support future MPA management and fisheries stock assessments.
  • Trap Surveys of the Channel Islands Marine Reserves – $407,000 was awarded to UCSB to conduct lobster and finfish surveys  in 2007, 2008, and 2009 as part of a collaborative effort between UCSB and local fishermen.  These data recorded overall size and abundance of lobsters and finfish inside and outside of MPAs to help inform MPA management and potentially lobster stock assessments. The project was also part of the Collaborative Lobster and Fishery Research Project. The final report from this project is available here.
  • Deep Water Ocean Surveys – $660,000 was awarded to Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE) to conduct deep-water ocean surveys at various monitoring sites within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in collaboration with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSFMC) and DFG.   More information on the surveys can be found here.
  • Nearshore Ichthyoplankton Data Baseline – $500,000 was awarded to UC San Diego to  synthesize data on California Current and nearshore ichthyoplankton populations based on historic and recent data from California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) and other ichthyoplankton monitoring programs, including expanded coastal sampling as part of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS).  The research provides a valuable baseline picture of ichythoplankton populations, and for informing stock assessments for species such as the California lobster.  UCSD is also producing a web-accessible database, to inform future studies of changes in fish populations.
  • Socio-economic information for the MLPA North Central Coast Study Region – $200,000 was awarded to Ecotrust to collect baseline socioeconomic data collection for the MLPA North Central Coast Study Region.  Ecotrust developed and deployed an interactive computer tool to collect georeferenced information from the fishing community about the extent and relative importance of commercial and recreational fisheries in the North Central Coast Study Region.  The data were  used during the MLPA process to inform stakeholder discussions of MPA sites. Ecotrust also analyzed the fishery data in combination with additional DFG data to estimate maximum potential impacts of proposed MPA networks developed in the MLPA Initiative process.
  • Improving management of California coastal fisheries –Many of California’s nearshore fisheries are data-poor, making it difficult to conduct stock assessments or develop management strategies for these populations.  To help address this situation, Quantitative Resources Assessment, LLC (QRA) was awarded $150,000 to conduct an evaluation of alternative management strategies that can be applied to data-poor California fisheries.  QRA has provided an introductory description of a management strategy approach and applied it to specific case studies (a final report is available here).  As part of this project, QRA developed a stock assessment for California halibut, which was ranked as the highest priority finfish species for fishery management plan (FMP) development (stock assessment report is available here).
  • Upgrades to DFG equipment, vessels, and fishery data management systems – The work plan also provided the following grant awards to upgrade DFG data management and equipment systems:  $325,000 for upgrades to DFG remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), research vessels, and other DFG marine equipment; $302,571 to conduct an assessment of the informational and data needs of DFG to support the work of managing the state’s marine resources;   $445,000 to PSMFC to develop a comprehensive and integrated electronic data collection and reporting system for commercial and recreational fishery-dependent data and an additional $630,000 to test new survey methods for reducing uncertainty in recreational fishing data when sampling private and rental boats that return to private-access sites as part of the California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) .

Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Pilot Project

The California Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Pilot Project was started in July 2005 by the SeaDoc Society with funding from the California Ocean Protection Council ($345,000), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ($58,325) and the NOAA Marine Debris Program ($55,000).

The overall goal of the California Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Pilot Project was to: determine the degree to which derelict fishing gear is an important enough issue in California to warrant establishment of a statewide removal program, and,  if so, to position the project for long-term operation within the State of California.

During the pilot project  (July 2005 – December 2006) SeaDoc Society:

  • Removed nearly 10 tons of derelict fishing gear from around California’s Channel Islands
  • Identified 773 lost fishing gear targets through volunteer reports, and 47 days of volunteer diver surveys, sidescan sonar, and search and collection efforts
  • Cleaned up approximately 198 sq. km. of seafloor habitat through gear removal, resulting in reduced hazards for boaters, less obstructed grounds for commercial fisheries, and less threat for living coastal resources;
  • Repatriated 111 traps in good condition to commercial lobster fishermen
  • Completed the California Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project Policies and Procedures Manual (March 2006);
  • Acquired permits, tested and refined protocols, and hired qualified staff and contractors; and
  • Distributed outreach materials and received media exposure

SeaDoc Society used the success of the pilot project to launch the California Lost Gear Recovery Project.  Since May 2006, the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project has retrieved nearly 11 tons of gear from around the California Channel Islands (Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Catalina). As well, the project has cleaned more than 1400 pounds of recreational fishing gear off public fishing piers from Santa Cruz to Imperial Beach including more than 1 million feet of fishing line. Several of these piers now have fishing line recycling bins, to encourage proper disposal of unwanted hooks and microfilament.

 

August 2-3, 2010 CSSI meeting

Below is an overview of the California Sustainable Seafood Initative meeting that took place August 2-3 in Costa Mesa, CA.

Meeting Summary

Meeting Presentations:

  • Bill Fox, World Wildlife Fund Foundation – Assessment on wild-pack seafood certification labels
  • Dan Averill, Marine Stewardship Council – Overview of certification program and traceability
  • Ray Riutta, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute – Overview of ASMI program
  • Casson Trenor, Greenpeace
  • Allison Jordon, Sustainable Wine Growers – Overview of California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
  • Dr. Malcom Lewis, LEED – Lessons Learned from LEED
  • Jonathan Hawes, YottaMark – Traceability program
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