$4 Million Awarded to Monitor North Central Coast MPAs
by Dan Bacher
February 22, 2010 -- The Ocean Protection Council has awarded $4 million to "support initial monitoring" of the recently designated North Central Coast marine protected areas (MPAs) under Governor Arnold Schwarzengger's widely-contested Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.
"The projects, which will continue for up to three years, will target marine life and habitats, as well as commercial and recreational activities, inside and outside the protected areas," according to a news release from Christina S. Johnson of California Sea Grant.
"Through the baseline program, teams of researchers and citizen-scientists will survey shallow and deep rocky habitats, kelp forests, rocky shores, estuaries, beaches and other key ecosystems," the release stated. "They will also monitor ecologically and economically important species of fishes and invertebrates, as well as range of human activities, including commercial and sport fishing, and also non-consumptive recreation such as tide-pooling, bird watching and scuba diving."
What parallel universe do Johnson and the teams of "researchers" and "citizen-scientists?" live in? Are they aware that this money is going to greenwash one of the most corrupt environmental fiascos in California history, a process that is the antithesis of real marine and fishery protection?
Are they aware that so-called "public" process is funded and directed by the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation, a shadowy organization funded by big corporations that attempts to control environmental politics in California and is entirely unaccountable to the public?
Are they aware that the "August body" known as the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force is infested with oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate interests? Are they aware that the current chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast Region is none other than Cathy Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association?
Are they aware that the California Fish and Game Wardens Association says the DFG doesn't have enough staff to enforce existing marine reserves on the Central Coast - and that they oppose the creation of new reserves on the North Central Coast and elsewhere until the extreme shortage of game wardens is addressed by the state of California? Are they aware that the wardens now refer to MPAs as "Marine Poaching Areas?"
Are they aware that these new reserves off Stewarts Point in Sonoma County and Point Arena in Mendocino, in a classic case of environmental racism and cultural genocide, will ban members of the Kashia Pomo and other Indian Tribes from harvesting seaweed, abalone and mussels as they have done for centuries?
Are they aware that the MLPA process has completely taken water pollution and other factors off the table while imposing redundant fishing regulations along the most heavily restricted waters of any place on the planet?
Are they aware that imposing new no-take zones will do nothing to restore collapsing Central Valley Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, striped bass and other fish populations that once swam and foraged in huge numbers off the North Central Coast, since these fish declines are caused by massive water exports from the California Delta and declining water quality?
Are they aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst-ever Governor fish and the environment in California history, is using the MLPA to greenwash his abysmal environmental record and to kick the most ardent defenders of marine ecosystems - Indian tribal members, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and sustainable seaweed harvesters - off the water to pave the way for offshore oil drilling, corporate aquaculture and wave energy projects?
Are they aware that many of the same "Big Green" environmental NGO's that are collaborating with the Governor in his fast-track MLPA process made a deal with the Governor and Legislature to support the water policy/water policy package that creates a clear path to the construction of a peripheral canal and new dams?
Are they aware that the MLPA, a law passed in 1999 to protect marine ecosystems, has become an absurd parody of marine "protection" under Schwarzenegger? Are these "esteemed" scientists going to take money to "monitor" a process that should be immediately suspended and reexamined rather than standing up for environmental justice and scientific integrity like they should?
Here is the press release:
Subject: $4 Million Awarded to North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program
February 22, 2010
$4 Million Awarded to North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program
Contact: Christina S. Johnson, California Sea Grant, 858-822-5334, csjohnson [at] ucsd.edu
The Ocean Protection Council has awarded $4 million to support initial monitoring of the recently designated North Central Coast marine protected areas (MPAs). The projects, which will continue for up to three years, will target marine life and habitats, as well as commercial and recreational activities, inside and outside the protected areas.
The North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program is a collaboration of California Sea Grant, Ocean Protection Council, Department of Fish and Game, Ocean Science Trust and MPA Monitoring Enterprise. The set of projects funded through the program, solicited by California Sea Grant through a public call for proposals and selected through a competitive peer-review process, will establish an integrated picture of marine ecosystems and human activities in the North Central Coast from Alder Creek in Mendocino County to Pigeon Point in San Mateo County.
Through the baseline program, teams of researchers and citizen-scientists will survey shallow and deep rocky habitats, kelp forests, rocky shores, estuaries, beaches and other key ecosystems. They will also monitor ecologically and economically important species of fishes and invertebrates, as well as range of human activities, including commercial and sport fishing, and also non-consumptive recreation such as tide-pooling, bird watching and scuba diving.
Researchers will combine new and historical data, collected inside and outside the MPAs, to document key aspects of the regions ecological and socioeconomic characteristics before and around the time of their establishment. From this, they will be able to document initial changes in marine habitats, species, fisheries and recreation that may be associated with new protections.
The results of the projects will lay a foundation for future assessments of the effectiveness of the MPAs in meeting the states policy goals. Broader ecological, social and economic trends in the region will also be evaluated to distinguish possible effects of the MPAs from other influences on the regions ecology and coastal use patterns.
The selected projects and their leaders are:
-- Mark Carr, University of California, Santa Cruz, scuba surveys of kelp and shallow rock ecosystems
-- Amy Dean, Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, analysis of citizen-science data from rocky shores and sandy beaches, collected by LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students)
-- Gregor Hodgson and Cyndi Dawson, Reef Check California, citizen-science scuba surveys of rocky reefs
-- James Lindholm, California State University, Monterey Bay, and Dirk Rosen, Marine Applied Research and Exploration, ROV surveys of deep-water habitats
-- Shannon Lyday, Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, analysis of citizen-science data collected through Beach Watch
-- Gerry McChesney, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dan Robinette, PRBO Conservation Science, surveys of seabird distributions and ecology
-- Karina Nielsen, Sonoma State University; Steven Morgan, University of California, Davis, and Jenifer Dugan, University of California, Santa Barbara, surveys of sandy beaches and surf-zone ecosystems
-- Peter Raimondi, University of California, Santa Cruz, surveys of rocky intertidal ecosystems
-- Astrid Scholz, Ecotrust, and Christopher LaFranchi, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, socioeconomics and demographics of coastal use
-- Jan Svejkovsky and Jamie Kum, Ocean Imaging Corporation, aerial kelp surveys and intertidal habitat mapping
-- William Sydeman, Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research, integrated ecosystem assessment
Further information on each of the projects will be available in March on the California Sea Grant website at http://www.csgc.ucsd.edu.
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the North Central Coast MPAs in August of 2009, as a step toward establishing a statewide network of MPAs, as required under the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. The MPAs will take effect on April 1, 2010. MPAs for another region, the Central Coast, were established in 2007; baseline data collection in that region has been completed.
The commission is currently considering MPAs for the South Coast, and planning for the North Coast is under way. The act requires that MPAs be monitored to assess their effectiveness and facilitate adaptive management. The Ocean Protection Council has authorized $16 million to support MPA baseline monitoring in the Central, North Central, South and North Coast regions; it requires at least 25 percent matching funds or in-kind contributions for each baseline project.
NOAAs California Sea Grant College Program (http://www.csgc.ucsd.edu) is a statewide, multi-university program of marine research, extension services and education activities administered by the University of California. It is the largest of 32 Sea Grant programs and is headquartered at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.