Funding for Sustainable Fisheries, Ocean Research
The Conservancy approved $2 million in March to help make the state’s fishing practices more sustainable, and $1 million for scientific research into California’s ocean and coastal ecosystems and ways to improve their health.
The $2-million grant is seed money for Environmental Defense’s new California Fisheries Fund, which will offer loans to fishing communities, groups, associations, and businesses attempting to make their fishing practices more environmentally and economically sustainable. When the Fund is fully capitalized, loans will be offered to:
- existing fishing cooperatives or other entities that represent a single product or geographic area, and that want to develop detailed plans for making their fisheries more sustainable;
- ports, communities, and other organizations for investing in fisheries infrastructure such as off-loading capacity, processing, and cold storage;
- individual businesses that want to add value to their seafood products, create new products, change to more sustainable equipment or gear, or improve their marketing.
Environmental Defense (ED) will manage the Fisheries Fund with the assistance of ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific, a nonprofit community development financial institution. ED will use Conservancy money to help raise an additional $6 million from private sources, for a total $8 million in capital for the Fund’s start-up phase.
The Conservancy’s $1-million grant for research, authorized by the Ocean Protection Council (OPC), is to the California Sea Grant College Program and University of Southern California Sea Grant Program for studies on climate change impacts on the state’s ocean and coastal resources. Proposals that might qualify for funding include studies on the effects of sea-level rise on coastal habitat, or how changes in ocean conditions such as acidity, temperature, and circulation might affect ocean food webs. Projects selected for funding will begin in 2008 and run through 2010.
This is the second round of OPC-related research funding to be administered by Sea Grant; the first round, also totaling $1 million, was provided by the Conservancy in 2005 for projects running from 2007 to 2009.
“Green Solution” Studied
A proposal to use parks and open space to help abate Los Angeles County’s serious water-quality problems is being studied with the help of $50,000 approved by the Conservancy in March, as well as contributions from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and Trust for Public Land. The county’s thousands of square miles of pavement leave little open ground to absorb and filter runoff from storms and daily water use. Whenever it rains--or a sidewalk is washed--contaminants flow via storm drains into lakes, rivers, creeks, and ultimately the ocean. As a consequence, nearly every water body in the county is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, and Los Angeles-area beaches are among the state’s most polluted. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has adopted strict water-quality standards that local governments must meet within the next few years.
Community Conservancy International (CCI), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, has proposed a “Green Solution” that would remove concrete and asphalt and retrofit existing parks to create a network of unpaved areas onto which runoff could be diverted to allow soil and plants to filter and naturally clean toxins. These areas could either be existing green space in parks and open spaces where water filtration technologies like underground cisterns could be installed, or publicly owned land that is now paved but could be restored to green space. A parking lot inside a park, for example, could be replaced by materials that allow water to filter into the ground. Paved lands along creeks and rivers could be restored and planted. The areas comprising the Green Solution network would not only mitigate water-quality problems but also diminish flood hazards, provide more green space for nearby residents, and allow for new trails and other recreation features.
CCI is conducting a study to quantify how much land is needed in each watershed to maximize the effectiveness of the Green Solution. The organization is working with hydrologists, engineers, digital mappers, regional and state agencies, and others to identify how much land would be required to make a measurable difference in water quality, and where that land would need to be. The study is under way now and expected to be completed by the end of this year. The March allocation is added to $100,000 from the Conservancy in November 2006.
Mapping Maverick’s Seafloor
Sometimes when winter storms come howling in from the north Pacific, waves as high as 50 feet pound ashore just north of Pillar Point Harbor, near Half Moon Bay, at a place known as Maverick’s. Surfers come from all over the world to try their luck against the monster breaks. Now, extremely detailed new images of the surrounding seafloor show clearly the topography that helps shape the waves into giants at this precise spot, funneling already powerful winter storm waves onto a reef shaped like a long, narrow ramp. The reef lies between deep troughs, which bend and focus the waves as they move toward shore. As the waves hit the reef and travel up the ramp, they slow down and begin to stand up, rising as they decrease in length, until they “trip,” pitching forward.
The images were created by the California Coast State Waters Mapping Project using technology that bounces sound off the seafloor, revealing a level of detail that has never been captured before (see Coast & Ocean, Vol. 21, No. 3). They document underwater habitat types and geological formations, and can be used by researchers to study natural processes such as underwater faults and sediment transport systems, which play an important role in coastal erosion and beach formation. The images can also be used to identify potential hazards, such as which areas are most at risk for tsunamis, and--perhaps most important--will serve as a baseline against which researchers can measure changes in habitats and formations.
The State Waters Mapping Project was initiated to survey all of California’s coastal seafloor out to the three-mile state waters boundary, to identify habitats, and help determine which areas should be set aside for protection under the Marine Life Protection Act. The Project’s first survey, which covered much of the area between Año Nuevo and Point Arena (the nearshore portion of the seafloor from Bolinas north to Point Arena has not yet been surveyed), generated the Maverick’s images and also documented the position and physical features associated with the marine segments of the San Gregorio fault, a major branch of the San Andreas fault system.
Research for the Mapping Project is being conducted collaboratively by Fugro Pelagos, Inc., California State University, Monterey Bay, Center for Habitat Studies Moss Landing Marine Labs, and the U. S. Geological Survey. It is supported by the California Ocean Protection Council, the Conservancy, Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Geological Survey, Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation, and NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program.