Harmful Algal Bloom in San Francisco Bay Results in Aquatic Mortality, Fish Kills

Waters in San Francisco Bay have turned reddish-brown this summer due to a multi-week harmful algal bloom (HAB) identified as Heterosigma akashiwo, an invasive species of marine algae responsible for some of the ‘red tides’ that are toxic to fish and aquatic life.

HABs, which result from the overgrowth of algae, or phytoplankton such as Pseudo-nitzschia, can produce cyanotoxins that can affect human and aquatic ecosystem health, cause acute and chronic illnesses, and in some cases mortality in pets who come in contact with harmful algae. These blooms also result in low dissolved oxygen that suffocate fish and can cause widespread fish mortality, known as ‘fish kills.’ … read more

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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MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 4: Estuaries and Mid-Depth Rocky Habitat

In the final “Ask the Researcher” webinars held in August, participants discussed important MPA monitoring projects in estuarine habitats and mid-depth rocky habitats. To learn more about this exciting summer series and the previous webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems, Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems, and Part 3: CCFRP and Commercial & CPFV Fisheries.

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MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 3: California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program and Commercial & CPFV Fisheries 

In the 5th and 6th “Ask the Researcher” MPA monitoring series webinars held in July, we discussed the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) and Human Dimensions: Commercial & Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) Fishing. To learn more about this exciting summer series, and the previous webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems and Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems. 

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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.

MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems 

June marked the second set of OPC’s “Ask the Researcher” MPA monitoring webinar series! In the 3rd and 4th webinars, we discussed Ocean Conditions Observing Systems and Sandy Beaches and Surf Zone Ecosystems. To learn more about this exciting summer series, and the first two webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems. 

Ocean Conditions Observing Systems 

The second webinar in the series began with a discussion on integrated ocean observing systems (PDF) with Dr. Henry Ruhl from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Dr. Ruhl started by introducing the California Integrated Ocean Observing System (CA IOOS), a regional partnership between the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS). Using satellite data and other ocean observing technologies, the teams developed data products intended to help resource managers and members of the public better understand relationships between environmental factors and MPA performance. 

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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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