OPC Releases its Draft Equity Plan for Public Comment!

OPC is pleased to release its comprehensive draft Equity Plan for a 45-day public review and comment. The OPC Equity Plan represents OPC’s commitment to advancing equity across ocean and coastal policies and actions in California and strengthening internal efforts to create a more inclusive workplace and workforce for California’s coasts and ocean. The OPC Equity Plan was collaboratively developed with OPC staff and leadership, funding grantee, Better World Group (BWG), and members of OPC’s Equity Plan Environmental Justice (EJ) Advisory Group.

The Equity Plan highlights the equity efforts within coastal and ocean policymaking and research that are primed for statewide action. Specifically, the Plan outlines priorities, milestones, and outcomes to increase communication and outreach; provide targeted funding and technical assistance; improve staff training and capacity; strengthen environmental justice policies, and further integrate community science and tribal expertise into decision-making.

We welcome your feedback on this draft! Access the OPC Draft Equity Plan, or visit the Equity webpage for more: www.opc.ca.gov/equity.

Public comment should be submitted to OPCEquityPlan@resources.ca.gov by June 23, 2022.

Call for Proposals to Build Coastal Resilience – $9.5 Million Available

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is pleased to announce the release of a solicitation for projects that build resilience on the coast to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of sea-level rise. Specific project types include research-based projects that focus on coastal habitat mapping, contaminated sites, and socio-economic impacts, and implementation projects that work to provide resilience to climate change through restoration and/or habitat enhancement. … read more

MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher

Bring your questions! Join us as we unpack the results of the latest state-funded MPA long-term monitoring projects through an 8-part virtual summer webinar series. Researchers from 24 universities, agencies and institutions across California worked closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to monitor key habitats both inside and outside of MPAs, including kelp forests, rocky reefs, rocky shores, estuaries, and sandy beaches. Additionally, one project provided a socioeconomic evaluation for commercial and Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) fisheries. These monitoring projects were aligned with MPA Management Program goals and the monitoring framework established in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. Results from these monitoring projects, along with information from other sources, will inform California’s MPA Decadal Management Review (DMR) report to the California Fish and Game Commission in February 2023.  For those looking to dig deeper into MPA monitoring data, including both baseline and long-term monitoring data, please visit the State’s new California MPA data portal. Snapshot reports outlining key findings from each project are available now in both English and Spanish (linked below). … read more

California’s efforts to protect and restore kelp featured in new restoration guidebook and global review

A unique kelp restoration pilot project on California’s north coast has been featured in The Nature Conservancy’s new Kelp Restoration Guidebook. This guidebook was authored by an expert panel with support from managers, scientists, and restoration practitioners. It highlights kelp loss as a global, climate-driven phenomenon and offers lessons learned from kelp restoration efforts around the world – including California, which is emerging as a leader in this space thanks to effective and unprecedented partnerships between state agencies, nonprofits, and local communities.

… read more

OPC Releases State Agency Sea-Level Rise Action Plan for California, A Roadmap for Planning and Implementation Coastal Resilience 

At its February 23 Council meeting, OPC presented the State Agency Sea-Level Rise Action Plan for California (Action Plan), a first-of-its-kind, highly coordinated effort to outline a roadmap toward coastal resiliency for the state of California. Developed through intense collaboration from the 17 state agencies that make up the State Sea-Level Rise Leadership Team, the Plan is a living document that fosters accountability and collaboration for planning and implementing sea-level rise (SLR) action over the next five years. It builds on Senator Atkins’ landmark legislation, Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2021 and drives California’s efforts to achieve coastal resilience in the face of rising seas.

Sea-Level Rise (SLR) Leadership Team 

The SLR Leadership Team is made up of 17 California state agencies who work collectively to achieve coastal resilience for the entire coast of California. These agencies hold jurisdiction over the coastal region through authorities that regulate, develop, and implement local, regional, and state policies. Following the development of the SLR Principles in 2020, the SLR Leadership Team was tasked with the creation of an actionable plan to implement SLR resiliency.

These principles are listed here:  … read more

MPA Statewide Leadership Team Releases Work Plan, Key Tool in MPA Management Program

By Elyse Goin, Sea Grant Fellow

Proving that many heads are better than one, The Marine Protected Area Statewide Leadership Team (Leadership Team) released its 2021-2025 Work Plan and it is a must read for anyone interested in California’s network of marine protected areas.

Leadership Team Overview

The Marine Protect Area Statewide Leadership Team is an advisory team that collaborates on interests pertaining to California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network, which was completed in 2012 through the Marine Life Protection Act. Established in 2014, the MPA Statewide consists of representatives from state and federal agencies, California Native American Tribes and non-governmental partners. The Leadership Team enables communication across our large state in which different regions have varying priorities, ecosystems, deep-time histories and immediate threats. 

Work Plan Contents

The Work Plan was implemented using guidance from The California Collaborative Approach: Marine Protected Areas Partnership Plan and the MLPA Master Plan to outline successful actions and outcomes in alignment with the MPA Management Program. Drawing from these Plans and stakeholder input, the Leadership Team outlined goals pertaining to four key areas of focus. Those areas include:

  1. Outreach and Education,
  2. Research and Monitoring,
  3. Enforcement and Compliance and
  4. Policy and Permitting.

As one reads the Work Plan, they will see overarching goals, strategic priorities, key actions and outcomes attached to each of the four focal areas. It is important to note that the contents of this Work Plan are specific to MPA management throughout fiscal years 21/22- 24/25 and stand alone to the contents of the Decadal Management Review forthcoming in February 2023. The Work Plan does not predict any recommendations or outcomes of the Decadal Management Review.  … read more

Now Accepting Applications: OPC 2022 Summer Internship Program

OPC is hiring up to five Student Assistants for its 2022 Summer Internship Program. The purpose of the Summer Internship Program is to provide undergraduate college students with an opportunity to gain hands-on-experience with a small State agency focused on protecting and enhancing the state’s coastal and ocean ecosystems and ensuring easy, affordable access to and along the coast for all Californians.

OPC values diversity and equity at all levels of the agency and is committed to fostering an environment in which employees from all backgrounds, cultures, and personal experiences are welcome and can thrive.  As such, OPC encourages applications from individuals from a broad range of identities and experiences. It includes those who have overcome personal hardship or other barriers that may complicate their continued progress in research careers, including financial, academic, and social barriers. … read more

California Takes Decisive Action to Reduce Microplastics Pollution: State Adopts a First-in-Nation Approach to Protecting Ocean and Human Health 

Trash at Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA. Photo by Shira Bezalel, San Francisco Estuary Institute.

SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to increasing concern about pervasive and persistent pollution caused by microplastics, the California Ocean Protection Council yesterday approved the first comprehensive microplastics strategy in the nation. This leading-edge Statewide Microplastics Strategy identifies early actions and research priorities to reduce microplastic pollution in California’s marine environment. Worldwide, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. Without any intervention, this amount is anticipated to triple by 2040. Over time, plastics break down in aquatic environments into pieces of ever-decreasing size, with those less than 5 mm in size known as “microplastics,” which are easily ingested by ocean life, causing harm such as tissue inflammation, impaired growth, developmental abnormalities and reproductive complications.

Microplastics have also been found in human stool, lung, and placenta samples, and within soils and plants. Research in California has identified tire and road wear, synthetic textiles, cigarette filters and single-use plastic foodware as among the top sources of microplastics in California bay and ocean waters, sediment and fish tissue. Precautionary management of microplastic pollution and upstream source reduction are the most effective response to this crisis.

“Microplastics are poisoning the ocean, both across the planet and off the California coast,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “We must take action, and this strategy shows us how. By reducing pollution at its source, we safeguard the health of our rivers, wetlands and oceans, and protect all of the people and nature that depends on these waters.”

“Some solutions, like stormwater infiltration projects and better compliance with nurdle discharge prohibitions, can reduce microplastics immediately”, said OPC Executive Director, Mark Gold. “But we can not dramatically reduce microplastic pollution without leadership from the textile industry and tire manufacturers to produce consumer products that don’t add to the growing problem.”

This Statewide Microplastic Strategy provides a multi-year roadmap for California to take a national and global leadership role in managing microplastics pollution by utilizing a two-track approach to manage microplastic pollution. … read more

Landmark Statewide Microplastics Strategy Recommends Early Actions and Research Priorities to Reduce Microplastic Pollution

In response to increasing concern about pervasive and persistent pollution caused by microplastics, California has prepared a first-of-its-kind Statewide Microplastics Strategy that recommends early actions and research priorities to reduce microplastic pollution in California’s marine environment. The Strategy follows the direction of Senate Bill 1263 (Portantino), which was signed into law in 2018 and is scheduled for adoption by the Ocean Protection Council at its Wednesday, Feb. 23 meeting. 

University of Toronto / Tsui, N.

Essential to California’s Microplastic Strategy is the recognition that decisive, precautionary action to reduce microplastic pollution must be taken now, such as taking comprehensive action to reduce single-use plastics and other top sources of marine litter, while scientific knowledge and understanding of microplastics sources, impacts, and successful reduction measures continue to grow. Plastics are ubiquitous in both our daily lives and in the environment. Worldwide, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and without any intervention, this amount is anticipated to triple by 2040. Over time, plastics break down in aquatic environments into pieces of ever-decreasing size, with those less than 5 mm in size known as microplastics.  

Microplastics are easily ingested by marine life, causing harm such as tissue inflammation, impaired growth, developmental anomalies, and reproductive difficulties. Microplastics have also been found in human stool, lung, and placenta samples, indicating the potential for human health impacts, and within soils and plants.

Research in California has identified tire and road wear, synthetic textiles, cigarette filters and single-use plastic foodware as among the top identified sources of microplastics in California bay and ocean waters, sediment, and fish tissue.

The Statewide Microplastics Strategy sets a multi-year roadmap for California to take a national and global leadership role in managing microplastics pollution. The Strategy outlines a two-track approach to comprehensively manage microplastic pollution: the first track lists immediate, no regrets actions and multi-benefit solutions to reduce and manage microplastic pollution, and the second track outlines a comprehensive research strategy to enhance the scientific understanding of microplastics in California and inform future action.  

Photo courtesy National Science Foundation/SCR #193528

Solutions 

  • Pollution Prevention: Eliminate plastic waste at the source (products or materials from which microplastics originate). 
  • Pathway Interventions: Intervene within specific pathways (ex: stormwater runoff, wastewater, aerial deposition) that mobilize microplastics into California waters. 
  • Outreach & Education: Engage and inform the public and industries of microplastic sources, impacts, and solutions. 

Science to Inform Future Action 

  • Monitoring: Understand and identify trends of microplastic pollution statewide. 
  • Risk Thresholds & Assessment: Improve understanding of impacts to aquatic life and human health. 
  • Sources & Pathways Prioritization: Identify & prioritize future management solutions based on local data. 
  • Evaluating New Solutions: Develop and implement future solutions.  

The public is invited to participate in the Feb. 23 meeting. Agenda and instructions on joining can be found here.