Fishing for Research: OPC Staff and the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program Team Up in Point Lobos

By Stacy Hayden, Communications Manager

It was a calm Friday at 6:30 a.m. when we left the dock on the vessel New Horizon from Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. At the helm was charter boat Captain John Klusmire leading a coffee-fueled group of deck hands and volunteer anglers, including six OPC staff, out along Central California’s rugged coastline. This wasn’t any old fishing trip; this was serious scientific business. Our host for the day, the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP), has been collaborating on fisheries research with the help of scientists and fishermen since 2007. OPC staff were just a few of the volunteer anglers on board that day supporting CCFRP’s efforts of conducting catch and release data collection to evaluate the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on fish populations.  

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DDT – A Never Ending Story

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking Silent Spring exposed the devastating environmental harm caused by synthetic pesticides including DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane). In the book, she wrote, ”How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” The book helped catalyze the environmental movement of the 1960s and led to the eventual DDT application ban in the United States in 1972. I was born a year after Silent Spring was published and nine years before the DDT ban, yet here we are a full half-century after the ban with DDT still causing ecological harm and posing public health risks to exposed populations.

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2022 MPA and Climate Solicitation Updates

We are pleased to announce a new solicitation for grant proposals for projects benefitting California’s ocean and coast, made possible with funding from Proposition 68, Chapter 9. This is the first competitive call for Chapter 9 funds. The priority issue area for this round of Proposition 68 funding is the nexus between marine protected areas and climate resiliency for species, habitats, and people.

The Letters of Intent Form is due on July 29, 2022 by 5:00 p.m.

An informational webinar for prospective applicants was held on July 7, 2022. The webinar recording and webinar slides (PDF) are available. Also, an office hour/Q&A session was held on July 14, 2022. All questions asked at these sessions are now available in this Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) document.

Visit the Prop 68 webpage for complete details.

A Reckoning for Plastic Pollution

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

By now, everyone in the nation, if not globally has heard about California’s groundbreaking new circular economy and plastic pollution reduction law: SB 54. Senator Ben Allen, an OPC council member, authored the bill and received tremendous support from the Newsom administration, leadership in the legislature, the environmental community, manufacturers, and waste managers: an extraordinary and unprecedented coalition. Governor Newsom, always ready to seize the day, put California into the global environmental limelight with a stroke of a pen on the same day as the Supreme Court condemned millions of people to devastating public health threats through a court ruling that prevents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking broad greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction action on power plants. California’s move to an extended producer responsibility and circular economy approach to plastic pollution reduction builds on the state’s marine debris leadership through plastic bag bans, the ocean litter prevention strategy (PDF) developed by OPC and NOAA, and the world’s first comprehensive microplastics strategy (PDF).

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A Great Day for OA (Ocean Acidification)

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

Wednesday morning at the UN Ocean Conference started with a session entitled, “Interactive Dialogue: Minimizing and Addressing Ocean Acidification, Deoxygenation and Ocean Warming”. Not exactly a title that inspires confidence that major action was on the agenda (I am skeptical when the word “addressing” is part of an action agenda!). I couldn’t have been more wrong. The chair of the session was John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate, and as part of a rousing speech on the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the good of the oceans, his first announcement was that the United States was joining the Ocean Acidification Alliance. Kerry emphasized that the 1.5-degree Celsius target was slipping from our grasp with every incremental increase over that target costing humanity trillions of dollars. Also, he highlighted the ongoing impacts of ocean acidification (OA), hypoxia, and marine heat waves on kelp forests, coral reefs, and more: an ecologically and financially devastating way to treat the source of over half the oxygen we breathe and the moderating buffer to some of climate change’s most devastating impacts.

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Urchin Removal on the North Coast Shows Promising Results for Kelp Forest Restoration

Close up of purple urchin

Photo: Stacy Hayden/Ocean Protection Council

June 28, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Mike Esgro, (818) 917-6468, Michael.Esgro@resources.ca.gov

Urchin Removal on the North Coast Shows Promising Results for Kelp Forest Restoration

Fort Bragg, Calif. – An unprecedented partnership on California’s north coast has concluded with the removal of nearly 50,000 pounds of purple urchins and positive signs of kelp forest recovery. The exciting results from two Mendocino County restoration sites demonstrate that commercial urchin fishermen can be extremely effective at targeted urchin removals, and that removals can facilitate bull kelp recovery when oceanographic conditions are favorable. The promising outcomes from this two-year effort will inform resource managers’ efforts to protect and restore threatened kelp forests across the state.

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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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Impact Science

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

Yesterday, the OPC hosted its first in-person meeting in more than two years. Like all state agencies, we are trying to figure out the new normal with hybrid meetings – good online participation, but a public justifiably reluctant to return to large in-person meetings. Despite the low turnout yesterday in Sacramento, it was reassuring to see OPC Councilmembers and staff complete the essential work of the Council in the extraordinary, new CNRA auditorium. 

One of the reasons I was excited to be appointed by Governor Newsom as Executive Director of the OPC three years ago was the Council’s long-term focus on impact science: applied research that provides results that can enhance state marine resource decision making. Science that makes a difference. The June 14th meeting was a great example of the OPC’s focus on impact science.  … read more

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.

California Proposes New Requirement for Tiremakers to Seek Chemical Alternatives to Protect Water Quality, Coho Salmon

California has the largest network of freeways in the country and its cities are known for heavy traffic. Vehicle and traffic emissions not only impact air quality – but can degrade water quality.

When it rains, stormwater carries particles from vehicle tires and brake pads – such as zinc, copper, and microplastics – from city streets and highways into California’s streams, rivers, and ocean waters. Tire particles are also among the largest known sources of microplastic pollution with research completed in San Francisco Bay identifying nearly 50 percent of microplastic fibers that entered the Bay as vehicle tire wear.

Once in the environment, tire particles can be ingested by small organisms or bind with other contaminants, threatening the health of wildlife and entire watersheds that connect California summits to the sea.

Coho salmon. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Under a new regulation proposed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), companies manufacturing motor vehicle tires for sale in California will have to evaluate safer alternatives to 6PPD, a chemical that readily reacts to form another chemical known to endanger California waters and kill threatened coho salmon. … read more