General Fund for Marine Protected Area Monitoring
California Natural Resources Agency has received an ongoing allocation of $2.5 million dollars of General Fund, which is administered by the Ocean Protection Council, since Fiscal Year 2015/2016 to support marine protected area (MPA) monitoring throughout the state. For more information, visit OPC’s MPAs program webpage, and MPA Monitoring webpage.
General Fund to Address Whale and Sea Turtle Entanglement in Fishing Gear
The Budget Act of 2018 included a $7.5 million General Fund appropriation to OPC to address whale and sea turtle entanglement, with $1 million of the total amount directed to support sea lion and seal stranding rescue and rehabilitation activities. At the October 25, 2018 OPC meeting, the Council approved disbursement of $1 million to the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to fund California Marine Mammal Stranding Network member activities for sea lion and seal rescue and rehabilitation. At that meeting, the Council also approved a $170,000 project to deploy solar loggers (solar-power vessel tracking systems) on Dungeness crab commercial fishing and whale watching vessels to collect fishing activity and whale concentration data. This information will inform the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP) of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to reduce the risk of entanglement in fishing gear.
Additionally, in September 2018, SB 1017 (Allen) was signed into law to phase out drift gillnets in the shark and swordfish fishery. Public Resources Code Section 35651 directs OPC to provide $1 million of the $7.5 million appropriation to fund the transition program established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 8583. OPC staff anticipates bringing this project to the Council for consideration and approval once CDFW has finalized its agreement with the fiscal agent who will administer the transition program.
Taking into account the above projects, OPC has approximately $5.3 million of General Fund monies remaining to address whale and sea turtle entanglement; OPC staff is currently developing an investment plan – in close coordination with CDFW, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and stakeholders – to ensure strategic and impactful deployment of the remaining funds. Additional information regarding the General Fund to address whale and sea turtle entanglement in California fishing gear will be posted here when available.