30×30 Virtual Roundtable Discussion

Conserving 30% of California’s Coastal Waters by 2030

Please join us for a roundtable discussion on how the state will meet its goal to conserve 30% of coastal waters by 2030, conserve coastal and marine biodiversity, and enhance climate resilience. … read more

OPC Joins the 30×30 Partnership: A Collaboration for People and Nature

By Michael Esgro, Senior Biodiversity Program Manager & Tribal Liaison

Yesterday, hundreds of environmental champions (including OPC leadership and staff!) met at California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) Headquarters in Sacramento for the official kickoff of the 30×30 Partnership. This new collaborative brings together local, state, federal, and tribal leaders from across the state to ensure the voices of all Californians are represented in the state’s bold effort to conserve 30% of its lands and coastal waters by 2030.

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UN Ocean Conference Kickoff

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

Sunday night, the Oceano Azul Foundation hosted the 2022 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference kickoff at the Lisbon Oceanarium. The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, delivered a powerful speech making it clear that war and refugee crises can’t be used as an excuse for inaction on climate and ocean conservation. President Rebelo de Sousa also praised the environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO) community for their tireless pursuit of ocean conservation, children for their bold and clear voices on climate and the oceans, and Portugal for their Marine Protected Area program. To have the leader of the host nation kick off the week in such a bold and candid manner should set the tone for the week.

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California and Canada Partner to Advance Bold Action on Climate and Biodiversity

Building on California’s global leadership on biodiversity and climate, and following the partnership established with New Zealand last month, Governor Gavin Newsom and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced a new partnership on June 9 to advance bold action on climate change and biodiversity conservation. California and Canada signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) focused on fighting climate change, reducing pollution, cutting back on plastic waste, advancing zero-emission vehicles, protecting species and habitats, and building climate resilience.

Credit: Sandra Fogg

At the California Science Center in Los Angeles during the Summit of the Americas, Governor Newsom and Prime Minister Trudeau, along with their respective delegations, held a bilateral meeting to discuss California and Canada’s shared values, which are reflected in the MOC. These include enhancing partnerships with  Indigenous Peoples, accelerating biodiversity conservation efforts, and conserving 30% of lands and waters by 2030.

The partnership also advances the goals and objectives of the California Ocean Litter Strategy and Statewide Microplastics Strategy to prevent plastic pollution by partnering on a range of complementary voluntary and regulatory actions spanning the plastics lifecycle in order to address the threats of plastic waste and pollution, including microplastics, on the health of the environment and ecosystems, including wildlife, rivers, lakes and ocean.

A joint statement on the new California-Canada climate action and nature protection partnership can be found here.

OPC’s Year in Review: Meeting Challenges, Advancing Equity, Protecting Our Ocean

“As we look to 2022, our goal at the agency is to… continue California’s global leadership, combating climate change, transitioning our economy, and protecting our people and nature in the meantime. I believe strongly that people are resilient and that nature is resilient. We can adapt and weather these changes we are experiencing right now, and we at the Natural Resources Agency and across state government are focused on strengthening the resilience of our communities, our residents, and of our natural places to these changes we are experiencing. I’m optimistic that we will work harder than ever before and make unprecedented process toward building this resilience.” – from California Natural Resources Secretary and Ocean Protection Council Chair Wade Crowfoot’s end of the year video message

As 2021 brought global challenges to the forefront, the state of California responded with bold, decisive actions to protect our coast and ocean. OPC staff led multiple projects designed to restore wetlands, improve water quality, prevent plastic pollution, respond to environmental justice inequities, promote sustainable fisheries, protect marine wildlife and build resilience to climate change.

Despite the many looming threats, we continue to find hope in the form of scientific solutions to the planet’s biggest problems and in the promising work done by our grantees on the front lines. Join us in celebrating specific achievements from the past year below: … read more

California Seeks Feedback on Draft Strategy to Achieve 30×30 Conservation Target

To protect biodiversity, advance equitable access to nature, and combat climate change, the California Natural Resources Agency today released a groundbreaking document detailing strategies and opportunities to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030.  

The draft of Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature is now available for public review and feedback. Pathways to 30×30 responds directly to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-82-20, which aims to accelerate conservation of California’s lands and coastal waters through voluntary, collaborative action, and makes California the first state to commit to the ambitious global “30×30” target. 

An underwater scene featuring a sheepshead

Photo by Zack Gold

“The level of collaboration and leadership by OPC on 30×30 has been tremendous. I look forward implementing this strategy together,” says Dr. Jennifer Norris, Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat and lead for 30×30 California.

OPC has coordinated closely with Dr. Norris and additional CNRA leadership on the coastal and ocean components of California’s 30×30 initiative, building on the Conservation of Coastal Waters Advisory panel report released earlier this year. The pathway to conserving 30 percent of California’s coastal waters by 2030 will include the 16 percent of state waters currently protected within the state’s network of marine protected areas and a prioritized focus on working with federal resource managers to strengthen biodiversity conservation measures in California’s federally managed National Marine Sanctuaries, which currently cover 40.6 percent of state waters.  

Sanctuaries provide an opportunity for California to meet or exceed the 30×30 target while ensuring that access and sustainable use is maintained. Strengthened protections within Sanctuaries could include:  

  • Restoring and revitalizing indigenous stewardship,  
  • Phasing out the use of particularly harmful fishing gear,  
  • Strengthening water quality protections,  
  • Restoring degraded habitats,  
  • And/or banning single-use plastics within Sanctuary watersheds.  

Moving forward, OPC will be working with the research community, other state and federal agencies, Tribes and Tribal governments, and coastal stakeholders – including commercial and recreational fishermen – to identify areas that are important for biodiversity in California’s coastal waters, assess major threats to biodiversity and explore additional protections that could be implemented to address those threats.  

“OPC is looking forward to working with the National Marine Sanctuaries, fishing and environmental communities, and other ocean stakeholders to develop and implement a path to 30 percent conserved coastal waters by 2030”, said Dr. Mark Gold, Deputy Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Policy and Director of the Ocean Protection Council. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to leverage our efforts with the federal 30×30 initiative with an objective of thriving coastal waters.”

Do you have thoughts on how California can best protect biodiversity and achieve “30×30” for the coast and ocean? We want to hear from you! Visit CaliforniaNature.ca.gov to review the draft Pathways to 30×30 document and submit feedback by February 15, 2022. 

California Joins Global Network of Subnational Governments Promising Action on Biodiversity Conservation

Scientists have made it clear that stakes couldn’t be higher in the fight to save our planet’s species and habitats from extinction and devastation. On November 3, California became the first U.S. state to sign the Edinburgh Declaration, joining a global network of subnational governments promising bold action to conserve the planet’s biodiversity in the face of climate change.

The Edinburgh Declaration calls for transforming all sectors of society to address species loss and habitat destruction. It also highlights the key role that subnational governments can play in implementing global biodiversity goals.  

California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis met with Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson at COP 26 to formally sign the Declaration. “The nature crisis is real. We must move faster and on multiple fronts to address the joint crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,” Kounalakis said. “I am proud to sign the Edinburgh Declaration on behalf of Californians and our strong commitment to this global effort. As a subnational party with 40 million people to protect, 105 million acres we rely on for food, water, and habitat, and the fifth largest economy in the world to sustain, we understand what is at stake. There is no future in business as usual.” 

And California is already delivering on this vision. In October 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-82-20, which elevates the role of nature-based solutions in California’s efforts to address climate change, protect biodiversity, and provide access for all Californians to the state’s precious natural areas.  … read more

California Biodiversity Day 2021 – Get Involved!

As a state, California boasts both the highest number of species total and the highest number of species that occur nowhere else. Our state’s animal and plant life is so varied that we’ve been named as one of 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation International. For California Biodiversity Day on Tuesday, Sept. 7, we’re turning our attention to what climate change means for ocean wildlife – and what we’re doing to protect the habitat those creatures rely on. (See the full line-up of California Biodiversity Day events here.)

Plenty of iconic ocean creatures can be seen from California’s shores including harbor seals, sea otters, elephant seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles and whales. Our tide pools feature anemones, urchins, nudibranchs, limpets, mussels, crabs and many more animals uniquely suited to living in these constantly changing homes. Cormorants, osprey, sandpipers, godwits and pelicans are only some of the hundreds of species of coastal birds diving, soaring and nesting along our beaches. Dozens of types of flowers and other plants dot long stretches of undeveloped coastline. This all combines to create a fascinating and beautiful 1,100 miles along the Pacific Ocean. … read more

Global Climate Change Report Affirms California’s Leadership

On August 9, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth report on global climate change. The report, which was written by 234 scientists from around the world, provides a sobering outlook for the planet as global temperatures continue to increase and signals an urgency for action now. Many changes observed are unprecedented, with some impacts – such as global temperature and sea-level rise – increasing at a pace not previously predicted by scientists. 

The IPCC report asserts that even if the world’s population completely ceased greenhouse gas emissions immediately, what’s already been emitted will continue to affect the atmosphere for decades to come:  … read more

Advancing 30×30: Conservation of Coastal Waters Report Released

a breaking wave at Montara State Beach
Montara State Beach

The Conservation of Coastal Waters Advisory Panel has released its summary document: Advancing 30×30: Conservation of Coastal Waters. The report can be found here.

The Conservation of Coastal Waters Advisory Panel collaborated to explore strategies that California could pursue to conserve 30% of California’s coastal waters by 2030 (30×30) in a way that is meaningful, equitable, and measurable.

The Advisory Panel includes specialists from a Tribal Government, a federal agency, academic and research institutions, and non-profit organizations representing a broad range of conservation expertise in coastal habitats and communities. Panelist bios can be found here, along with the questions that the panelists were asked to address — click on the Conservation of Coastal Waters Topical Workshop header to see both. The public is also being asked to consider how they would address these questions.

A topical workshop, Advancing 30×30 and Conservation of Coastal Waters, will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 17 from 3 to 6 p.m. that will feature a presentation from the Advisory Panel, as well as an opportunity to provide input on how California Natural Resources Agency and its partners can deliver on the State’s 30×30 goal. Register for the workshop here.

Public participation is key to these workshops, and participants will have an opportunity to share their perspectives on the topic. Key takeaways related to each topic will inform the State’s Pathways to 30×30 document and CA Nature GIS.

All meetings are open to the public and will be accessible by Zoom, a phone dial-in option, and YouTube livestream. Advance registration is required and participants who wish to make a 90-second public comment will need to register to provide verbal input during the public comment session.

Visit CaliforniaNature.ca.gov for additional information about the virtual workshop and other ways to provide comments