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

Recreational Red Abalone Management Strategies Integration

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) uses partnerships, policy and funding to advance science-based solutions to safeguard marine life, habitats and livelihoods in California. OPC has partnered with Tribes and Tribal communities, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Fish and Game Commission (FGC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and representatives from the recreational red abalone fishing community to support integration of proposed recreational red abalone management strategies.

Following a scientific peer review of two management strategies under consideration for the Recreational Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in 2018, the FGC made the following recommendations at its December 2018 meeting: (1) address peer review recommendations to integrate the two proposed management strategies; (2) develop a de minimis (i.e., managed/restricted access) fishery option; and (3) develop a more comprehensive process and timeline to engage and consult with stakeholders.

To accomplish this, a working meeting is being held to establish a Project Team and initiate its charge. The Project Team is open to all interested members of the public, including Tribes and Tribal communities, members of the abalone fishing community, scientists, resource managers, and others. Over the next six months, the Project Team will provide advice and guidance intended to assist CDFW and FGC as they consider final options for a Recreational Red Abalone FMP for the North Coast. Please see below for details on upcoming Project Team in-person meetings and/or webinars, as well as information from previous Project Team meetings.

Administrative Team Report

The final Administrative Team report (April 17, 2020) is available here.

The April 17, 2020 report incorporates feedback from the Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee (MRC) based on discussion during the March 17, 2020 MRC meeting.

The draft Administrative Team report (February 14, 2020) is available here.

The Administrative Team, consisting of a Tribal representative, OPC, CDFW, FGC, TNC, and fishing industry representatives, developed a report to respond to the December 2018 Fish and Game Commission motion and to summarize the management strategy integration process. The report is intended to capture and summarize Project Team discussions and guidance from May 2019-December 2019, including guidance related to the Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) results, the Exceptional Circumstances Strawman proposal, De Minimis Strawman proposal, etc.

Project Team Meetings

Tribes and Tribal communities, stakeholders, and interested members of the public are invited to participate in the sixth and final of a series of Project Team meetings to guide the development of the Recreational Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the North Coast.

Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team Meeting #6: Develop & Confirm Guidance for the Northern California Recreational Red Abalone Management Strategy: December 19, 2019: Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials: 

Management strategy evaluation: Recreational Red Abalone Management Strategy Integration (Final report, January 6, 2020)

December 19, 2019 Key Meeting Highlights

High-Priority Meeting Materials:

Background Materials:


Webinar Recording: RedAbaloneFMP_ProjectTeam_12192019.mp3 (158 MB)


Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team Meeting #5: Review Management Strategy Evaluation Results & Develop Recommendations for Draft De Minimis Fishery: November 21, 2019: Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials: 

High-Priority Meeting Materials

  • Agenda (here)
  • Exceptional Circumstances Strawman Proposal (here)
  • High-level Summary of Results from the Two-zone Management Strategy Evaluation (here)
  • Revised Strawman De Minimis Fishery Proposal (here)

Background Materials

  • Updated Project Team work plan (here)
  • Glossary of key terms (here)
  • Next steps for modelers from August 27/September 19, 2019 Project Team meeting (here)
  • De minimis fishery ideas and concepts received from the public (listed under “Project Team Proposals” below)

PowerPoint Presentations + Webinar: September 19, 2019 Project Team Meeting:


Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team: Meeting #4: Revised Management Strategy & Continued Discussion on De Minimis Fishery: September 19, 2019: Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials:

PowerPoint Presentations + Webinar: September 19, 2019 Project Team Meeting:

September 19, 2019, Project Team Meeting: Key Themes Summary


Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team: Meeting #3: Discussion of Draft Management Strategies: Tuesday, August 27, 2019: Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials:

High-Priority Meeting Materials

Background Materials

  • Draft de minimis fishery proposals (here)
  • Key Themes Summary from July 18 Project Team meeting (webinar) (here)
  • Updated, Project Team work plan (here)
  • De minimis fishery ideas and concepts received from the public (listed under “Project Team Proposals” below)

PowerPoint Presentations

August 27, 2019 Project Team Meeting: Key Themes Summary


Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team: Meeting (Webinar) #2: Update on Work Plan and Discussion of Data Streams and De Minimis Fishery Design Options: July 18, 2019 Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials:

July 18, 2019 Project Team Meeting: Key Themes Summary


Recreational Red Abalone FMP Project Team Meeting #1: Review and Discuss Management Strategies and Brainstorm on Managed/Restricted Access Fishery Options: May 22, 2019 Meeting Agenda + Meeting Materials:

May 22, 2019 Project Team Meeting: Key Themes Summary


Project Team Meetings + Webinars: Draft Schedule

  • May 22, 2019 (in-person in Santa Rosa)
  • July 18, 2019 (webinar)
  • August 27, 2019 (in-person in Santa Rosa)
  • September 19, 2019 (webinar)
  • November 21, 2019 (in-person in Santa Rosa)
  • December 19, 2019 (webinar)

The FGC Marine Resources Committee is planning to meet on November 5, 2019, and the FGC is planning to meet on December 11-12, 2019.

Project Team Proposals 

Proposals and ideas related to the red abalone FMP process for the Project Team’s consideration, including proposals for a de minimis/restricted/managed access fishery, etc. All proposals must be received no later than the July 2019 Project Team meeting to be considered by the Project Team. Please submit proposals to hello@strategicearth.com. All proposals will be made publicly available.

Proposals received from Project Team members and interested members of the public:

Red Abalone

Photo: Derek Stein

Additional Resources


OPC & Strategic Earth Grant Agreement: Red Abalone Proposed Management Strategies Integration, Project Team

To support this process, OPC entered into a grant agreement with Strategic Earth to provide neutral facilitation support of the Project Team process to inform integration of the red abalone management strategies. Strategic Earth will develop meeting summaries and other related deliverables per the grant agreement, which will be posted publicly on this OPC red abalone project webpage. Supporting information regarding approval of this grant agreement may be found in the Executive Director’s report (page 4 and page 11) for the May 23, 2019, OPC meeting.

Timeline: May 2019 – March 2020

Grant Amount: Up to $79,081

Grantee: Strategic Earth

California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan

The spiny lobster fishery is one of the oldest fisheries on the West Coast.  The range of the California spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus, extends from Point Conception, California to Bahia Magdelena, Mexico.  The primary fishing ports for the California fleet are found from Santa Barbara to San Diego.    The development of a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is intended to provide for the long term sustainability of this species.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for managing the California spiny lobster in U.S. waters.  The fishery consists of both a commercial and a recreational fishery in Southern California.  The California spiny lobster fishery is identified as one of the highest priority candidates for an FMP due to an unknown population level and the extent of the recreational fishery harvest. The Spiny Lobster level of priority is also based in part on the state’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) master plan prioritization of the fishery for FMP development.  While the stock seems healthy, maintaining the lobster population’s sustainability over time is a concern for DFG and the OPC.  Additionally, the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen’s Association has expressed interest in FMP development to maintain the sustainability of the commercial lobster fishery.

The spiny lobster FMP will use a collaborative approach involving state agencies, the commercial and recreational fisheries, scientists, the California Wildlife Foundation (CWF), and members of the public.  The fishery plan builds on a number of key actions the OPC has taken to advance the development of sustainable fisheries and fishing communities in California.  Funding this FMP will implement recommendations from the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) lessons learned project to develop new approaches to inform FMPs.  It will also advance the California Sustainable Seafood Initiative (CSSI) by providing useful population data to help prepare the spiny lobster fishery for possible certification as sustainable.

Related Links
DFG California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan page 

Request for Qualifications
Management Strategy Evaluation (April 27, 2012)

Council Documents/Staff Reports
Staff Recommendation (May 12, 2011)

Moss Landing Fisheries Market Project

In November, 2007, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) purchased property in Moss Landing Harbor occupied by a wetfish offloader to provide a permanent home for the NSF (National Science Foundation) owned Research Vessel Point Sur.  This site is also home to one of the last remaining coastal pelagic species (wetfish) fish offloading facilities in Moss Landing.

MLML saw an opportunity to partner with the local fishing industry, to create a sustainable fishery that could save local jobs and to promote a partnership that would benefit research, education and fishing interests by developing the property into a multi-use fishing operations facility, serving research and education co-located with sustainable fish offloading facilities.

In 2007, OPC provided funds to MLML to develop a feasibility study with help from the local Monterey Institute of International Studies Business School and the Naval Postgraduate School.  The study examined markets for coastal pelagic species (CPS) — primarily, sardine, anchovy, mackerel and squid — that could be used to transform the existing low-value high-volume catch model to a higher-value lower volume management of the catch and identified new product and market opportunities.

Staff Recommendations/Project Documents
Moss Landing Feasibility Study

San Francisco Fishermen’s Wharf Seafood Market

The fishing community at Fisherman’s Wharf has provided seafood to area residents for more than a century.  On average, over 3 million pounds of fish per year are landed in San Francisco, making it one of the major seafood ports on the West Coast.  These landings are worth over six-million dollars a year to the local fleet, which operates largely in the waters of the Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.  The local fleet has traditionally harvested salmon, crab, rock cod, albacore tuna, herring and California Halibut – a mixture of state- and federally-managed fisheries with diverse rules, fishery management plans and types of fishing gear.

Ecotrust, the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association (CBOA) and the San Francisco Community Fishing Association (SFCFA) are partnering on an innovative venture that is designed to create incentives for conservation of ocean resources through the creation of a sustainable wholesale and retail seafood market along San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  The vision is to have San Francisco’s fishermen own and operate an integrated seafood business, from harvest to consumer that anchors the long-term viability of the fleet, create jobs for future generations of fishermen, maintain the fishing heritage of San Francisco Bay area, and create incentives for the responsible stewardship and sustainable management of the ocean.

In 2007, OPC and the Coastal Conservancy provided funds to Ecotrust to work with CBOA on a feasibility study, which included the development of a business plan,  architectural design sketches and engineering studies, and  construction costing for the market facility on Pier 47.  In November 2010, OPC  authorized additional funding for the first phase of project, creation of a pilot marketplace at Pier 45  in which fishermen can sell their fresh catch to area businesses, restaurants and local consumers, during the 2010-2011 season.

Council Documents/Staff Recommendations
Feasibility Study and Business Plan
Staff Recommendation for San Francisco Fishermen’s Wharf Seafood Market (Nov 2010)


San Luis Obispo Sustainable Fisheries Support

In 2006, the commercial fishing industry in San Luis Obispo County had been hard hit economically as a result of dramatic changes in government regulations and market forces. Increased competition from abroad and new regulations at home, including no-trawl fishing zones and the creation of marine protected areas, combined to threaten the future viability of the region’s fishing industry. In response, the Morro Bay and Port San Luis harbor departments, and the commercial fishermen that rely on their waterfronts, requested funding from the Coastal Conservancy and the Ocean Protection Council to assist them to transition to a more financially and environmentally sustainable future.

OPC provided a grant of $130,000 to the City of Morro Bay to prepare a business plan, develop and implement a marketing plan, and build and conduct sea trials of innovative low impact fishing gear to support the commercial fishing industry and revitalize harbors in San Luis Obispo County.

Morro Bay and Port San Luis Commercial Fisheries Business Plan (March 2008)

Related Projects

San Diego Sea Urchin Fishery Project

In 2006, OPC awarded a grant to the San Diego Watermen’s Association (SDWA) to assist the sea urchin fishery in San Diego in its efforts to build long-term sustainability.  The SDWA effort focused on three activities which were considered critical for developing responsible harvesting practices, collecting and distributing a high value product, and perpetuating local-level stewardship of the sea urchin fishery.  They were:

1) Transforming the sea urchin fishery in the San Diego area from a data-poor status to one based on good fishery-dependent and independent scientific data and models.

2) Developing a model for high-quality collaborative research between fishery scientists and the fishing community, building on the benefits of resource stewardship and information sharing by sea urchin fishermen.

3) Shifting the local sea urchin market to a value-based system that benefits fishermen and the consumer.

The SDWA project served as a successful model for establishing leadership within a fishing community to  improve data on fisheries and build collaborative relationships with fishery scientists and managers.  The project also initiated efforts to develop approaches for improving urchin markets;  SDWA is continuing to work on these business strategies.

Staff Recommendations/Project Documents

OPC Staff Recommendation (November 2006)

Final Report (November 2008)

Final Report Appendices (November 2008)

Collaborative Fisheries Research Organization

Collaborative Fisheries Research

Collaborative fisheries research (CFR) involves creating partnerships among fisheries stakeholders (commercial and recreational fishermen, university scientists and fisheries scientists, coastal managers, NGOs, funders, and tribes) to encourage collaboration on fisheries research design, including defining goals and research questions, and to ensure that necessary data gathered in a manner that will improve fisheries management.  The clear benefit of collaborative research is fishermen participating in the collection of data. They are also able to provide an “on-the-water service” by making available their fishing vessels, equipment, etc., to CFR projects. The degree of collaboration that takes place on fisheries research projects can vary and strongly depends on the questions driving the needs and stakeholders involved.

2008 CFR Workshop

this collaborative endeavor came after OPC staff and the
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Resources Legacy Fund Foundation convened a CFR workshop in Oakland, California on April 29-30, 2008.
On April 29-30, 2008, OPC staff and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation convened a workshop on Collaborative Fisheries Research in Oakland, CA.  Nearly 70 invited stakeholders participated in the workshop including representatives from West Coast commercial and recreational fishing groups, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), NOAA Fisheries, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), Sea Grant, several California universities, the Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund.  At the workshop participants expressed strong support for establishing a formal CFR organization in California and an interest in coordinating with complementary state or federal programs or research initiatives along the West Coast.

Establishing a CFR Organization

In September 2008, the OPC authorized disbursement of up to $300,000 to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) to create a collaborative fisheries research (CFR) organization in California.  The CFR organization will develop, solicit, and fund projects with the goal of creating partnerships between fishermen and scientists to develop and collect fisheries data necessary to the Department of Fish and Game, the Fish and Game Commission, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Ocean Protection Council.

This establishment of the CFR program was delayed due to the state bond freeze, however,  it was restarted in late 2009.  The PSMFC is now making progress in establishing the CFR organization.

In November 2010, the OPC authorized disbursement of up to $1,500,000 to the PSMFC and the University of California Sea Grant Program to continue to build the organization and to fund the actual research projects.  The goal is to leverage substantially greater and more stable funding sources from the federal government.

Council Documents
2008 CFR Workshop Summary

Staff Recommendation (September 2008)

Staff Recommendation (November 2010)


California Aquaculture Programmatic EIR

Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 30411(e) required the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to prepare programmatic environmental impact reports (PEIRs) for both coastal and inland commercial aquaculture projects. DFG contracted for the preparation of the draft environmental documents in 2003, but subsequently concluded that these documents were inadequate. DFG lacked sufficient resources to redraft and complete these PEIRs and additional funds from the aquaculture industry were not available to improve the initial reports.

On May 26, 2006, Senate Bill 201 was signed into law which repealed the previous aquaculture PEIR requirements and created a new section in the Fish and Game Code for developing these documents. This new section established criteria for the coastal aquaculture PEIR to be completed by DFG including extensive requirements to be addressed by marine finfish aquaculture applicants.

The certified PEIR for marine aquaculture can serve as the first tier of CEQA review for proposed aquaculture operations.  The PEIR can also serve as a guidance document for potential project sponsors in alerting them to the potential environmental impacts and the need to avoid or mitigate those impacts. The PEIR may also serve as an educational tool for interested parties that may have concerns about commercial marine aquaculture development.

The Department of Fish and Game lacked the necessary funds to complete the PEIR, necessitating the financial contribution from the Ocean Protection Council.

The PEIR is currently still under development.

Council Documents

Staff Recommendation (June 2006)

Staff Recommendation (November 2010)