Updates from the December 12, 2023 Council Meeting

The Ocean Protection Council (OPC) made a big splash at its December 12, 2023 meeting, investing over $26 million to advance all four of its strategic plan goals to address climate change, advance equity, conserve marine biodiversity, and support a sustainable blue economy. Funding will support a diverse range of projects, from assessing beach vulnerability to sea level rise to restoring vital coastal wetlands and increasing scientific understanding of the state’s coastal and marine ecosystems.

Here’s a closer look at the approved funding:

Beach Resiliency Planning: $2.1 million will develop a California Beach Resiliency Plan that will identify the vulnerability of beaches to sea level rise, assess associated impacts to equitable access to the coast, and recommend adaptation strategies to protect California’s iconic coastline.

California Ocean Corps Pilot Program: $1.5 million will establish a pilot Ocean Corps program, in close partnership with the California Conservation Corps, within three local programs operating in coastal regions (CCC Fortuna District, Conservation Corps Long Beach, and Urban Corps of San Diego). The pilot program will engage and provide workforce development for young people in coastal and ocean conservation, foster environmental stewardship, and create a future generation of ocean protectors through workforce training.

Wetland Restoration: $6 million of Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Funds will support the Southern Los Cerritos Wetland Restoration Project in Seal Beach, restoring critical habitat for diverse species and enhancing coastal resilience against storm surges.

Marine Protected Area Monitoring: $9,421,162 will support long-term monitoring efforts of California’s network of marine protected areas for the next three years, collecting vital data necessary to understand the effectiveness of these areas in protecting marine ecosystems and inform adaptive management.

Kelp Research and Restoration: $5,941,117 will fund research and restoration efforts to advance kelp forest recovery and resilience, supporting ocean health and coastal communities. Projects engage communities in the restoration of California’s kelp forests, such as building on the success of in-water urchin culling by commercial divers and building capacity for the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation to lead kelp forest monitoring and restoration within its ancestral territory.

Partnership with Ocean Science Trust: $1,325,000 will support OPC’s ongoing partnership with the Ocean Science Trust as Science Advisor, Secretariat of OPC’s Science Advisory Team, and lead the continued development of coast and ocean health indicators.

Offshore Wind Environmental Monitoring: $150,000 will augment the budget of a previously approved grant to increase community and tribal engagement in the development of a comprehensive environmental monitoring guidance to inform offshore wind development in California.

These significant investments by OPC demonstrate California’s commitment to protecting and restoring its precious marine resources and the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ocean. By addressing diverse challenges and fostering scientific understanding, OPC is paving the way for a more resilient and thriving coastal future for generations to come. Let’s celebrate this significant step forward for California’s ocean!

Also at the meeting, Executive Director Jenn Eckerle welcomed Staci Lewis, OPC’s new Marine Protected Areas Program Manager! To this position, Staci brings twenty years of experience in ocean policy, coral reef ecology, marine protected areas, and human dimensions of ocean sustainability. Sadly, OPC did say bon voyage to our Administration & Finance Manager, Holly Shand, who has been with OPC since 2018. Luckily, Holly will not be too far away as she moves into her new role with California Natural Resources Agency. Read the Executive Director’s Report for other OPC program updates and relevant coastal and ocean-related bills tracked by OPC staff during the recent legislative session. 

View the full December agenda and associated documents on the meeting webpage. The recording is also available: 

The next OPC Quarterly Public Meeting is Thursday, February 29, 2024 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

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Categories: Event, OPC meetings, Strategic Goal 1: Climate Change, Strategic Goal 2: Equity, Strategic Goal 3: Biodiversity