The Coastal and Ocean Resources Working Group for the Climate Action Team (CO-CAT)

The Coastal and Ocean Resources Working Group for the Climate Action Team (CO-CAT) is a working group comprised of senior level staff from California state agencies with ocean and coastal resource management responsibilities. CO-CAT’s task is to ensure the state’s ability to adapt to climate change impacts on ocean and coastal resources while supporting implementation of global warming emission reduction programs.

The CO-CAT is a forum for state agencies to share information and coordinate on actions, including to implement the ocean and coastal resources chapter of the 2014 Safeguarding California Plan and the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy.

CO-CAT also develops guidance on sea-level rise. On April of 2013, an update to the State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document was complete. This SLR Guidance provides information and recommendations to enhance consistency across agencies in their development of approaches to sea-level rise. The updated SLR Guidance incorporates new information presented in the  National Academy of Sciences report on Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington released June 2012. For more background on the update to the SLR Guidance document, please click here.

CO-CAT membership includes staff from the following agencies:

  • Air Resources Board,
  • California Coastal Commission,
  • California Energy Commission,
  • Delta Conservancy,
  • Delta Stewardship Council,
  • Department of Boating and Waterways,
  • Department of Energy,
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife,
  • Department of Food and Agriculture,
  • Department of General Services,
  • Department of Parks and Recreation,
  • Department of Public Health,
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control,
  • Department of Transportation,
  • Department of Water Resources,
  • Environmental Protection Agency,
  • Fish and Game Commission,
  • Governor’s Office of Planning and Research,
  • Natural Resources Agency,
  • Ocean Protection Council,
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission,
  • State Coastal Conservancy,
  • State Lands Commission,
  • State Transportation Agency,
  • State Water Resources Control Board, and
  • Strategic Growth Council


Based on the Sea-Level Rise Resolution that the OPC adopted on March 11, 2011, the OPC will provide ongoing coordination with the OPC Science Advisory Team and the CO-CAT to support regular updates to guidance on sea-level rise based upon current scientific understanding and projections.

Related Links:


Thank You Ocean OPC Podcasts

PR_TrestlesThe Thank You Ocean (TYO) Report focuses on interesting and exciting California ocean topics such as marine mammals, the latest news on ocean health, timely ocean issues and fascinating ocean facts. Stories feature interviews with ocean experts, explorers, scientists, conservationists, government and business leaders. Listeners learn about ocean activities and recreation, surfing, fishing, boating, and the many ways we all can thank the ocean through conservation and stewardship.

OPC staff has recently been featured on the TYO podcast series.  If you haven’t already, take a few minutes and listen to the podcasts below:

Protecting the California Coast

The ocean impacts life in California in many ways. In this report, Amber Mace, Executive Director of the Ocean Protection Council, talks about the role of the OPC in protecting our coastal and ocean resources

Decommissioning Oil and Gas Rigs

Skyli McAfee, Executive Director of the California Ocean Science Trust, offers a perspective on decommissioning oil and gas rigs that sit off the coast of California.

Governors Take Action Toward Ocean Health

In July 2008, the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington released a West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health Action Plan that identified common ocean and coastal management priorities. Brian Baird, Assistant Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy for the California Natural Resources Agency, offers an update about this joint effort to protect and manage the vast marine resources shared by California, Oregon and Washington.


CSSI Meeting Materials – August 2-3, 2010

California Sustainable Seafood Initiative

List of meeting materials for August 2-3, 2010

ROV-based Deep Water Monitoring of the Northern Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas

In 1998, California passed the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which calls for an ecosystem approach to achieving sustainable fisheries and identifies the acquisition of essential fishery information (EFI) as a critical component in management decisions. EFI includes, among other things, fish population status and trends, impacts of fishing, ecological relationships, habitat information, and other environmental information. In 1999, the State went further, passing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which mandated a redesign of the state’s system of MPAs “to increase its coherence and its effectiveness at protecting the state’s marine life, habitat, and ecosystems.”

The Channel Islands MPAs became the first of the new MPA networks to be implemented. Established in 2003, the network includes eleven State Marine Reserves (SMRs) where no take of living, geological or cultural resources is allowed and two State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCAs) where limited commercial and/or recreational take is allowed.


Working together, the California Department of Fish and Game and Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE) developed an ROV program designed to collect data in the deepwater (20 to 100 meter) habitats in the newly established Channel Islands MPAs—habitats beyond the reach of most SCUBA divers.   The overarching goal of the program was to provide fishery-independent data required by the MLMA and MLPA—data to provide information on relative abundance, species interactions and associations, habitat preference, fishing effects on habitat, distribution, size composition of stocks, and human interactions with the marine environment. When tracked over time, this kind of information may provide managers with an indication of whether stocks are increasing or decreasing, and whether current management measures are achieving their intended conservation objectives. These data are also are needed to improve understanding of marine ecosystems and to enable adaptive management.


Key Findings and Successes A full report on the ROV program results to date is contained in “ROV-based Deep Water Monitoring of the Northern Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas Annual Report – 2009,” Marine Region Administrative Report No. 10-02, which will be posted on the California Department of Fish and Game web page:

The ROV data show that fish densities inside the MPAs have been consistently higher than densities in sites with similar habitats outside the MPAs. These differences were also detected by SCUBA based surveys in the shallow water areas adjacent to ROV study sites. While the causes for these differences are unknown, the fact that two independent methods showed similar results validates the use of ROV-based surveys for fishery-independent data collection.

The data have shown only slight changes in density within the MPAs since 2005. Given that most species of rockfish need very specific ocean conditions for successful reproduction, population changes are not expected to occur at a steady pace, but rather as large recruitment events that occur every five to ten years. Accordingly, it is not surprising that we have not yet seen large changes in MPA fish populations. In 2009, however, the team observed huge clouds of young of the year rockfish. Scientists working with MARE do not yet know if this is a huge recruitment class, or simply that the research cruise was conducted a month earlier than normal.

The time series data collected over the last five years has provided a cost effective baseline assessment of finfish and invertebrate abundance inside the MPAs and in unprotected comparison areas. Further, no animals were harmed by this video sampling.

Detailed analysis of data collected during this baseline sampling period is ongoing. The wealth of information contained within the archival video record collected will provide marine scientists the opportunity to expand our understanding of these highly productive marine ecosystems.

Underwater video clips of species in the Channel Islands MPAs

Council Documents

Channel Islands from RV Shearwater