California Releases Visionary Roadmap to Conserve 30 Percent of Lands and Coastal Waters by 2030

Today, in celebration of Earth Day, California released a groundbreaking document detailing the state’s approach to conserving 30 percent of our lands and coastal waters by 2030. In the face of a rapidly changing climate and unprecedented threats – year after year of extreme wildfire, the longest and most severe drought in our state’s history, the decimation of kelp forests along our northern coastline – Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature provides strategies and opportunities for protecting biodiversity, fighting climate change, and enhancing access to nature for all Californians. It also makes California the first place in the world to set forth an actionable roadmap for achieving the ambitious “30×30” global target.

OPC has been honored to coordinate closely with California Natural Resources Agency leadership on the coastal and ocean components of Pathways to 30×30. Currently, the state estimates that 16% of coastal waters are conserved. Moving forward, OPC will be working with California Native American tribes, the research community, other state and federal agencies, and coastal stakeholders – including environmental organizations and fishing communities – to conserve an additional half a million acres of coastal waters by implementing science-based protections that address the most serious threats to coastal and ocean biodiversity.

Pathways to 30×30 is more than a policy document. For OPC, it is a call to action that inspires us in the face of daunting challenges. Meeting the 30×30 target will help us realize our vision for the future: a California where our iconic marine habitats and species are safeguarded in perpetuity, where our coastal communities and local fisheries are thriving, and where people of all backgrounds can enjoy a healthy coast and ocean. We look forward to the work ahead.

Photo credit: Michael Langhans

Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles & Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear

Ocean Protection Council’s Strategy for Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear

California’s coastal waters include some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems in the world. To conserve this biodiversity and the coastal economies and communities that rely on a healthy ocean, Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is committed to protecting endangered and threatened whale and sea turtle species as well as supporting thriving commercial and recreational state-managed fisheries. The Strategy for Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles & Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear (Strategy), approved by the OPC at its November 2019 meeting, outlines investment priorities to reduce the risk of entanglement in California fishing gear and is one component of a more comprehensive effort to protect whales and sea turtles in California. This is consistent with Target 3.3.5 of the Strategic Plan to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean (2020-2025).

The 2018-2019 Governor’s Budget included a $7.5 million General Fund appropriation to OPC to address whale and sea turtle entanglement in California fishing gear. To guide Council investments in projects that reduce whale and sea turtle entanglement while supporting thriving fisheries, the Strategy provides a comprehensive approach to minimize entanglement in fishing gear, protecting California’s marine ecosystems and recreational and commercial fisheries. The Strategy includes four components:


Advance collaborative, multi-stakeholder processes to identify and develop solutions to reduce the risk of entanglement in fishing gear.


Develop improved data streams and collaborative research to provide comprehensive information on key factors of entanglement risk across state-managed fisheries in order to inform adaptive risk mitigation.


Support innovative research and development of fishing gear modifications that would reduce entanglement risk while allowing for safe, efficient, enforceable and cost-effective harvesting operations with minimal adverse impacts to marine life.


Conduct outreach and improved entanglement monitoring, documentation, analysis and response efforts.


Strategy for Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles and Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear 


Sea Lion and Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation & Drift Gillnet Transition Program

Of the Budget Act of 2018’s  $7.5 million General Fund appropriation to OPC to address whale and sea turtle entanglement, $1 million of the total amount was directed to support sea lion and seal stranding rescue and rehabilitation activities. At the October 25, 2018 OPC meeting, the Council approved disbursement of $1 million to the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to fund California Marine Mammal Stranding Network member activities for sea lion and seal rescue and rehabilitation. Additionally, in September 2018, SB 1017 (Allen) was signed into law to phase out drift gillnets in the shark and swordfish fishery. Public Resources Code Section 35651 directs OPC to provide $1 million of the $7.5 million appropriation to fund the transition program established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 8583. At the February 2020 OPC meeting, the Council approved disbursement of $1 million to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the CDFW-identified fiscal agent, who will administer the program.

Currently Funded Projects

  1. Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group
  2. California Disentanglement Trainings
  3. West Coast Entanglement Science Workshop
  4. California Entanglement Response Network Support
  5. California Drift Gillnet Transition Program Support
  6. Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in Fishing Gear Competitive Grant Program
  7. Gear Innovations Testing in the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery
  8. Small Vessel Surveys
  9. Whale Abundance Data Assessment
  10. Solar Logger Pilot Project

Completed Projects

  • Sea Lion & Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation

General Fund for Whale and Sea Turtle Entanglement | Funding Opportunities


Visit the West Coast Entanglement Science Workshop webpage | August 25 – September 3, 2020


Return to Sustainable Fisheries homepage

Upcoming Webinar Series: Microplastics Effects on Human and Ecological Health

The Ocean Protection Council, the State Water Resources Control Board staff, and numerous international experts will be participating in a webinar series starting on October 19 to characterize microplastics and human and ecological health effects. This webinar series is hosted by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and the University of Toronto and is open to the public; more information on the webinar series and registration information is available here:

Microplastics on a petri dish

Photo Credit: Xia Zhu

Request for Proposals: Two Communications Plans for California’s Marine Protected Area Management Program

The Ocean Protection Council is seeking proposals for two projects to develop (1) a communications plan for California’s Marine Protected Area Management Program and (2) a communications plan for California’s 2022 Marine Protected Area network management review.

These communications plans will be developed over the next two years leading up to the management review in December 2022 and through early 2023 to communicate the results of the review, along with the recommendations and next steps for ongoing adaptive management of California’s Marine Protected Areas. The Contractors will be required to work in close collaboration with OPC, DFW and FGC staff in the development and deployment of both of these communications plans throughout the duration of the contracts.

Communications plan for California’s Marine Protected Area Management Program

The contractor will work with the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) to develop a comprehensive Communications Plan (the Plan) for the State of California to raise awareness of and create brand identity for California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Management Program. The Plan will consist of a communications strategy, a work plan for implementing the strategy, digital and physical products and tools to implement the strategy, and a transfer of knowledge about the tools produced to OPC, CDFW, and FGC staff who will facilitate the continuation of the Plan.

For more information about the communications plan for California’s Marine Protected Area Management Program follow this link:

Communications plan for 2022 Marine Protected Area network management review

The contractor will work with the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) to develop an Outreach Strategy (the Strategy) to manage expectations and share information ahead of the first decadal management review of California’s marine protected area (MPA) network and  Management Program occurring in December 2022. The target audience includes tribal, federal, state, and local governments as well as California ocean stakeholders. The Strategy will also summarize the process and lessons learned after the 2022 decadal management review to serve as an example for other MPA managers and constituents and disseminate the information through national and international platforms.

For more information about the communications plan for California’s 2022 Marine Protected Area network management review follow this link:

OPC is Hiring Two Senior Environmental Scientists

Longfin Sculpin FishThe California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is hiring two Senior Environmental Scientists to help lead its Climate Change and Marine Protected Areas Programs. OPC is a state entity that works to (1) coordinate activities among ocean-related state agencies to improve the effectiveness of state efforts to protect ocean resources, (2) establish policies to coordinate the collection and sharing of scientific data related to coastal and ocean resources between agencies, (3) identify and recommend changes in state and federal law and policy to the Governor and Legislature, and (4) allocate and execute delegated bond funds and other designated funds in a manner that is transparent and in line with OPC’s priorities.

For more information about the Climate Change position, click here.

For more information about the Marine Protected Areas position, click here.

OPC approves grant for Newport Bay Water Wheel

At its October 25, 2018 meeting, OPC approved a $1.68 million Proposition 1 grant to the City of Newport Beach for planning and implementation of the Newport Bay Water Wheel project. The staff recommendation is available here and links to the related exhibits are on the meeting agenda page (see meeting link above).

After planning and permitting are completed, the Water Wheel will be installed in approximately 2020. It will operate on creek flow and solar power to remove floating trash and debris in San Diego Creek before it enters the Upper Newport Bay marine protected area and the Pacific Ocean. It will be located within and along San Diego Creek above Upper Newport Bay.

Modeled closely on the design of the highly successful Baltimore Trash Wheel project, the Newport Bay Water Wheel could immediately reduce trash load reductions of 50%-80% once installed, according to estimates by the City of Newport Beach. Follow Mr. Trash Wheel on Twitter to learn more.


Photo Credit:  Mr. Trash Wheel

Citizen Science Projects and Sea-level Rise

Several efforts are in place in California that strive to have citizens using photographs to document the tidal level, king tides, storm surge, flooding hazards, and other conditions concerning the boundary of the ocean and coastline. These photos can be used to calibrate sea-level rise and flood models, as well as provide unique detailed information on coastal resources that are currently or will be impacted by flooding.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Please remember to be smart and safe when participating in citizen science data collection. Don’t turn your back on the ocean.

California King Tides ProjectCKTP

Goal: Photographs of King Tide events.

  • These images offer a living record of the changes to our coasts and shorelines and a glimpse of what our daily tides may look like in the future as a result of sea level rise


Map with tidal information

Flickr        Facebook        Twitter


Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) Storm Photo



Goal: Photographs of lagoon and estuary mouths, lagoon and estuary overlooks, coastal roadways, seawalls, berms, cliffs, and beaches.

The most beneficial photographs will be those taken:

  • Regularly from the same location and angle (e.g., once per week or once per day) including low and high tides
  • With a fixed reference point within the field of view (e.g., a bridge edge)
  • Documenting large erosion or inundation events after a storm passes


Helpful Links:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation


USC Sea Grant: Urban Tides Initiativeurban


Goal: A yearlong community based science effort to help document current tidal lines and coastal flooding.

  • Collect images to visualize current flooding risks at coastal locations in Southern California
  • Use images to ground truth and calibrate scientific models that project flooding and erosion due to future sea level rise
  • Engage communities in meaningful science and invite them more effectively into the discussion of how we can adapt to rising seas
  • Increase ocean and climate literacy within our communities

Liquid photo database

Facebook          Twitter               Factsheet


The Nature Conservancytnc


Goal: Photographs of El Niño conditions using phones and drones.

  • Higher than normal water levels – you can help us by capturing images of: waves overtopping dunes, water over salt marsh into uplands, lower reaches of rivers flooded, flooded roads and other infrastructure, estuary bars being breached;
  • Coastal landslides or other large erosional events’
  • Property damage from floods or landslides.


Facebook          Twitter               Factsheet

Local Coastal Program (LCP) Grants Application Period Now Open

Applications are Due July 7, 2014

The fiscal year 2014-15 application period for grant funds to support Local Coastal Program (LCP) planning is now open. Funding is available through two coordinated grant programs:

  • Coastal Commission LCP Planning Assistance Grant Program: $1 million available for updating and certifying LCPs; may include updates to address impacts of climate change and sea-level rise.
  • Ocean Protection Council LCP Sea-level Rise Grant Program: $1.2 million available for work that supports LCP updates specifically to address sea-level rise, including sea- level rise modeling, vulnerability assessments, and adaptation planning and policy development.

Go to for more information and application materials.