Ocean Currents » california http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:44:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 This is How the Government is Preparing for Climate Change http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/06/28/this-is-how-the-government-is-preparing-for-climate-change/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/06/28/this-is-how-the-government-is-preparing-for-climate-change/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:00:35 +0000 Corey Ridings http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12374

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) just took a huge step in preparing our ocean, fisheries and coastal communities for climate change. This type of foresight and required coordination is difficult, and hasn’t happened as often as it should in the past. The Western Regional Action Plan (WRAP) lays out why and how NFMS will develop, use, and apply science that helps West Coast fishery managers prepare for climate change.

In recent years, the California Current experienced a “climate change stress test.” Extremes such as rapidly warming waters contributed to a downturn in forage species like sardine, a northern shift of some fish stocks, and concerning mortality events for predator species like sea lions. These events are early signs of how more fundamental and permanent change will manifest themselves. Long-term changes cascade through the food web, affecting marine life as small as plankton at the base of the food chain, to top predators such as sharks. Humans are not immune; the shape of economically and culturally important fish stocks will shift (see an example from the Atlantic Ocean), and we’ll be forced to change the way we fish and eat.

The WRAP takes us further than ever before in addressing approaching ocean changes. NMFS identifies a better understanding of climate variability as critical to fulfilling their mission, and recognizes the significant impacts environmental change has on public trust resources. Ocean Conservancy, Wild Oceans, and others have asked NMFS to follow-through on their plan, and provided recommendations that will help move the plan forward. Help us thank NMFS and let them know their work matters.

According to Dr. John Stein and Dr. Cisco Werner, Directors of the Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers:

Climate variability drives the ecosystems of the California Current. Our multi-pronged WRAP approach will help us anticipate likely changes in distribution and abundance of our West Coast marine species and guide our response.  This effort complements our existing ecosystem management approaches, including NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment and Climate Vulnerability and Analysis to meet the demands for climate-related information and support NMFS and regional decisions.“ 

In implementing the WRAP, we urge NMFS to prioritize science that draws clear lines to management; science in and of itself will not prepare our fisheries and dependent communities for climate change. This process is not linear, but an iterative conversation between NMFS scientists, managers, and the public. In order to accomplish this, NMFS must also better understand the social and economic underpinnings of a healthy ecosystem. That means better incorporating humans into the way we think about ecosystem and fisheries science.

We look forward to implementation of the WRAP, and realizing a more robust ecosystem and healthy fisheries as a result. We also recognize this is just one part of a larger vision for managing our fisheries as part of a resilient and thriving California Current – more coordinated strategies are needed from NMFS as well as other federal agencies, state governments, and concerned citizens.

This blog was co-authored by Ocean Conservancy’s Corey Ridings and Wild Oceans’ Theresa Labriola.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/06/28/this-is-how-the-government-is-preparing-for-climate-change/feed/ 0
Update: Forage Fish Protection Begins on the West Coast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/04/update-forage-fish-protection-begins-on-the-west-coast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/04/update-forage-fish-protection-begins-on-the-west-coast/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 12:00:55 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12008

I have another fin-tastic update for you, from the West Coast!

If you recall, about five weeks ago I wrote in gratitude over the outpouring of support from Ocean Conservancy activists, who together with other conservation supporters sent nearly 100,000 letters to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asking them to finalize protection for West Coast forage fish.

We said we’d get back to you on the final outcome and I’m happy to tell you about this victory! As of today, the final rule is complete and these fish will now be protected, and their immense importance to a range of predators from rockfish to whales to seabirds sustained.

The final rule will prohibit fishing for a list of 11 types of small, schooling marine species—including one that accounts for more than half of all deep-sea fish biomass—unless first reviewed and determined sustainable by federal fisheries managers.

In addition to the tremendous positive impact on the marine ecosystem, NMFS provided a big shout-out in support of the role of our activists in their decision, saying

Several letters from environmental organizations included petitions supporting the action, with signatures or comments from 91,966 people supporting the action… NMFS appreciates the broad public interest in this rulemaking and has taken the strong public support it received during the comment period into account in its approval of this final rule.

We’ll keep swimming forward to support corresponding forage protection in other West Coast areas such as California state waters, and keep you posted. Thanks again for helping make this historic conservation achievement possible!

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/04/update-forage-fish-protection-begins-on-the-west-coast/feed/ 1
Inspiring the Next Generation of Ocean Advocates to Leave Their Mark http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/18/inspiring-the-next-generation-of-ocean-advocates-to-leave-their-mark/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/18/inspiring-the-next-generation-of-ocean-advocates-to-leave-their-mark/#comments Mon, 18 Apr 2016 19:39:07 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11937

Most college students like me are familiar with the all-too-common rollercoaster: late nights spent pondering the future, deciding how to leave our proverbial mark on the world. We feel weightless as the pieces of one puzzle seem to fall into place, but then watch miserably as those visions crumble, battered by new uncertainties.

But I have known of my purpose for years: to save the ocean.

Ever since I was little, I have found the ocean’s vast complexities intriguing. The ocean influences almost every aspect of life on our fragile planet—an awe-inspiring fact that is underscored as I learn more as a student of environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland.

Despite my passion to fight for the ocean, I have occasionally ridden that rollercoaster, questioning my capacity to make a difference. How can one individual really make a difference in saving the biggest entity on our planet?

I needed a healthy dose of inspiration, and quickly.

And inspiration is exactly what I received today at Ocean Conservancy, where I work as an intern with the government relations team. It was delivered by Representative Sam Farr of the 20th District of California, who has been a true champion of our ocean during his decorated Congressional career.

I listened in fascination as the Representative eloquently reflected on his ocean conservation journey. As a founding member of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus, the Representative works to inform Members of Congress about topics from marine debris to ocean acidification. He has introduced robust ocean legislation and initiated the B-WET education program, nurturing the next generation of budding ocean enthusiasts.

The Representative stressed the importance of the individual activist’s voice, noting that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease…so we gotta keep on squeaking.” I am inspired to “keep on squeaking,” because the Representative’s tenure has taught me two significant lessons:

1. My generation is not starting from scratch–we are building on the strong foundation laid by Representative Farr and other ocean advocates. Ocean conservation is gaining ground due to the collaboration of Members of Congress, environmental nonprofits and other marine champions. Even whilst economic and international security issues dominate the political sphere, these trailblazers secure funding for ocean research, strengthen marine policy and expand environmental outreach: effectively giving ocean issues a vital seat at the table. Their dedication is lighting the way for others like me to follow.

2. Saving the ocean is in the best interest of all life on Earth. The beautiful thing about the ocean is that amid our growing differences, the ocean remains, reminding us that we are all intrinsically connected to everyone and everything. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and live on the same globe–vital resources that are provided by the intricacies of ocean processes. There is no option to be or not to be a steward of the blue, because without it, we would be lost.

Congressman Farr retires at the end of 2016, but leaves a powerful message: “We need grassroots support to say our ocean is important. It starts with you.”

These are words that inspire me–and should inspire us all–to never doubt one individual’s capacity to make change. Rather, they are the words that keep us up at night, pondering not the uncertainties of the ocean, but the possibilities of saving it.

Thank you, Congressman Farr, for your inspiring legacy!

DSC_5031_web DSC_5018_web DSC_5020_web DSC_5028_web

Samantha Bingaman is an intern with the government relations team at Ocean Conservancy. She is a junior environmental science and policy major with a concentration in marine and coastal management at the University of Maryland, and loves to study and spend time on the coast.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/18/inspiring-the-next-generation-of-ocean-advocates-to-leave-their-mark/feed/ 0
Thanks to YOU, Fish Conservation Swims Forward http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/thanks-to-you-fish-conservation-swims-forward/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/thanks-to-you-fish-conservation-swims-forward/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 22:48:28 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11519

Late last month, ocean advocates and supporters took action to help protect the base of the Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem by supporting a ban on commercial fishing on unmanaged forage fish in federal waters.  And, I was so excited to see that a tidal wave of Ocean Conservancy’s supporters took action, sending more than 17,000 letters to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asking for final approval of this important measure!

Since this campaign is joined by a number of ocean conservation groups around the country, NMFS has received nearly 100,000 total public comments on the issue.  WOW—that’s a big amount of support for such little (but important fish). So, thanks to YOU!

I bet you’re wondering about the outcome—did all of these messages have a BIG impact? Am I writing to tell you about a victory? Well, not quite yet! We won’t know the final outcome until perhaps springtime whether this measure will become law. Stay tuned—I promise to report back, when we have more information.

But, we can say we’ve made an incredible showing for conservation, thanks to YOU. 

Meanwhile, we can report that this effort has prompted further action along the West Coast. Back in 2012, fish managers in California adopted a visionary policy on forage species to recognize the special importance of forage species to the California marine ecosystem.  The federal rule on forage fish protection—that you helped advance with your recent action—also provided an opportunity to extend those protections to California. And, early this month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials did just that, scheduling forage fish protection similar to the federal rule for implementation this year.

So, big thanks to our resource managers in California as well.

Let’s hope for more two-for-one deals for ocean conservation in 2016!

 

 

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/thanks-to-you-fish-conservation-swims-forward/feed/ 0
UPDATE: California’s Refugio Oil Spill Larger Than Estimated http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/update-californias-refugio-oil-spill-larger-than-estimated/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/update-californias-refugio-oil-spill-larger-than-estimated/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 19:04:05 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11512 It’s like 16 trucks pulling up to the beach and dumping every drop of oil into the Pacific Ocean.

Oil on the beach at Refugio State Park in Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Controversy is brewing over just how much crude oil fouled pristine beaches and ocean waters in the Golden State as a result of the Refugio oil spill in May 2015.

On February 17, a preliminary factual report issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration indicates an additional 1,000 barrels of oil may have ended up in our ocean. This puts the total spill volume at an estimated 3,400 barrels or 142,800 gallons.

That’s like having 16 trucks pull up to the beach and dumping every drop of oil into the Pacific Ocean to spread towards unique and irreplaceable places like the Naples Reef State Marine Conservation Area and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Area, which was established to protect and celebrate the coastal culture practiced by Chumash Indians for millennia.

The federal regulators based its calculations on the purging of affected pipelines required as part of an investigation into what caused the spill. The Plains All-America Pipeline Company put the figure at 2,400 barrels (100,800 gallons), which was later raised to 2,860 barrels. Now a third-party investigator is working to reconcile the difference. Also of interest in the report is that 997 barrels of oil were recovered by the oil spill response—far lower than any estimate of the overall spill volume.

Towards recovery and restoration

Federal and state agencies designated as “natural resource trustees” have assembled to conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) to quantify the resource damages Plains All-American must pay as part of a recovery and restoration effort. That sum is separate from any legal liability that could stem from potential findings of negligence or wrong-doing discovered in separate investigations.

One thing is clear: it will be a challenge to assign a price to the loss of the spill zone’s rich ecological, commercial, recreational and aesthetic values and then choose projects that can best restore these losses.

It is relatively straight-forward to put a dollar value to the lost days of commercial fishing during the lengthy fishing closure imposed after the spill but how will monetary value be pinned on potential damage from negative perceptions of the region’s seafood quality?

Reduced access to the area’s favored recreational fishing sites could be tackled through construction or improvements in facilities like boat ramps and launch sites but will that address the full impact to the recreational experience in Santa Barbara?

As agencies and communities grapple with these issues, the investigation into the cause of the oil spill—which the report identifies generally as corrosion—has prompted a full shut down and partial removal of pipelines transporting oil and gas produced offshore to distant onshore facilities. This has resulted in several offshore oil and gas platforms stopping production. Energy companies are requesting permission to move oil via even riskier transportation modes like trucks and rail lines. So far, the only exception made was for oil remaining in affected pipelines and storage tanks to prevent further corrosion and head off another disaster.

Meanwhile, tar balls washed up on beaches over 100 miles from the spill site.

The once pristine beaches and nearshore waters in my state are reeling from a toxic impact that will continue to reverberate through complex ecosystems and habitats. Just how these damages are assessed and addressed, and how accountability for the spill is applied, will remain an important focus for Ocean Conservancy.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/update-californias-refugio-oil-spill-larger-than-estimated/feed/ 0
The Faces of Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/08/the-faces-of-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/08/the-faces-of-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2015 14:30:53 +0000 Sage Melcer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11193

Want the latest news on lobstermen, shellfish farmers and marine scientists pioneering a changing ocean? Check out Ocean Conservancy’s Scoop.it page! “Changing Chemistry” provides a peek into the lives of shellfish farmers and fishermen nationwide, and explores partnerships with scientists and legislators that led to local success stories. Here’s a sneak peek at some of their stories.

Bi-partisan Effort Ensuring Maine is Preparing for Climate Change

As legislator Mick Devin famously said, “No one comes to the Maine coast to eat a chicken sandwich.” Lobster is Maine’s kingpin commercial fishery and tourism hook; it’s also a shell-building organism that’s potentially at risk from ocean acidification. Lobster, clams, scallops and oysters make up 87% of Maine’s $585 million commercial landings and support about 33,000 jobs. Now politicians, marine scientists, lobstermen, aquaculturists and grassroots organizations are working to ensure these vital industries are prepared for a changing ocean. This is a bi-partisan force to be reckoned with.

Hog Island Oyster Co. Talks Ocean Acidification

Tessa Hill and Terry Sawyer sat down to discuss the benefits of science and industry partnerships. Hill, a marine biogeochemist at University of California, Davis, was approached by Hog Island Oyster Company co-owner Terry Sawyer to monitor water quality conditions around his farm to help understand how acidification impacts aquaculture in Tomales Bay, California. The result has led to an incredibly successful partnership that provides Hill with valuable data, and helps Sawyer adapt to changing ocean conditions.

Flexing Muscles over Mussels

Meet California’s mussel man (no, NOT the Governator) Bernard Friedman, the only open-ocean mussel farm owner in the state since 2003. Friedman’s love for the ocean led him to study sea life, and eventually put his passion into a business model. He recently had to renew outdated permits for his farm, a process that is important for marine conservation but can easily put an aquaculture operation at risk. However with cooperation from members of the Coastal Commission and researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, Friedman’s shellfish love affair sees a happy ending. These relationships will be crucial as future threats like ocean acidification will require smart management and monitoring to protect Friedman’s business.

How One Family Built a Shellfish Powerhouse on Puget Sound

Ever wonder what it feels like to be king of the oysters? It’s another day in the life of the Taylors at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington. From its origins in the 1880s, this fifth generation family-owned business is the largest shellfish aquaculture producer in the country. Yet the company faced its biggest hurdle yet in 2009 when ocean acidification caused millions of oyster larvae to die. Brothers Bill and Paul Taylor reflect on how they manage their operation while staying true to the strong environmental stewardship values their father instilled in them.

Half-shell Hero

The golden years of Chesapeake Bay’s wild oyster fishery have almost faded away; however, innovative watermen are bringing back the vibrant waterfront culture. Oysters, the ocean’s water filter, are ultra-efficient at clearing excess nutrients from the water and can drastically improve water quality. Policies requiring cutbacks in nutrient runoff support a bright future for a healthy Chesapeake ecosystem; allowing oyster farms, such as Hoopers Island Aquaculture Company, to thrive while also improving local water quality.

Want more stories? Follow our Scoop.it page to learn more.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/08/the-faces-of-ocean-acidification/feed/ 0
Thank you Congressman Sam Farr! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/11/13/thank-you-congressman-sam-farr/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/11/13/thank-you-congressman-sam-farr/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:47:11 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11037

A young boy who loved exploring the tidal pools along the shores of California’s Monterey Bay grew up to become a fierce defender of America’s greatest natural resource — our ocean. Yesterday, after more than two decades as California’s Central Coast’s longest-serving member, Congressman Sam Farr announced that he would retire at the end of the current Congress.

We are deeply grateful to Congressman Farr for his leadership in protecting our ocean.

Congressman Farr is a founding member co-chair of the House Oceans Caucus, whose 67 members from both sides of the aisle work to educate the House about issues facing our world’s ocean.

His support for science and observation has helped us identify threats and actively seek solutions. From marine debris to ocean acidification to protected areas, Congressman Farr sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to tackle some of the most pressing ocean issues of our time.

Congressman Farr’s tenure and position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee made him a formidable protector of vital funding for our oceans.

He has a rare understanding of the link between healthy oceans and a robust national economy—one that he shared with members on both side of the aisle.

His approach embraces the needs of his constituents with common-sense and solid science rooted in a vision for a future where oceans continue to benefit us all. He has been an outspoken champion for ocean planning and the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

And his legacy includes nurturing the next generation of ocean champions.

In his long and illustrious career, Congressman Farr was also a champion for the B-WET program, which for many young Americans is their first and often only exposure to how they can protect our bays, watersheds and oceans.

That’s a love that can last a lifetime, as Congressman Farr knows.

Join Ocean Conservancy in thanking Congressman Farr!

Tweet: Thank you @RepSamFarr for being a true champion for #OurOcean

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/11/13/thank-you-congressman-sam-farr/feed/ 0