Surfrider Dives into Ocean Planning on the East Coast

Monday, October 29th, 2012

October 29 2012 | Ocean Ecosystems, Marine Spatial Planning,

by Pete Stauffer

The Surfrider Foundation is excited to announce that we are hiring staff in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to support our participation in regional ocean planning. Regional ocean planning is an effort to address the many different uses of the ocean, including new proposed uses such as offshore wind projects.

Regional ocean planning allows stakeholders and the public to have a voice in what the future of their oceans and coasts will look like.

Surfrider’s goal in ocean planning is to protect special places along our coasts and ensure that future development of the oceans will minimize impacts to the marine environment and recreational uses. To that end, we will engage our members and other recreational users in the public process in both regions.

In addition, Surfrider plans to conduct a recreational use study for the Mid-Atlantic region in collaboration with academic, agency, and NGO partners. The study will collect spatial and economic information on recreational uses such as beach going, surfing, and wildlife viewing that can be used to inform the planning effort.

Regional ocean planning is a major priority of the National Ocean Policy which was established by President Barack Obama in 2010. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are the first two regions in the country to move forward with ocean planning efforts. Both regions are currently establishing regional planning bodies that will coordinate the planning processes.

Please address any questions or comments to Gene Rascon (vc@hbsbsurfrider.com), Pete Stauffer (pstauffer@surfrider.org) or Chad Nelsen (cnelsen@surfrider.org).

Leatherback Turtles Get Protection Along West Coast

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

by Mark Rauscher

In January 2012, regulators with NOAA designated 41,914 square miles of marine habitat along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California as “critical habitat” for the endangered leatherback sea turtle. This new designation means that development projects along the West Coast must consider and avoid impacts on the turtles and the jellyfish they eat.

The North Pacific population of leatherbacks swim 6,000 miles between the beaches of Indonesia, where they lay their eggs, and the US West Coast where they forage for food, primarily jellyfish.

According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The regulations will restrict projects that harm the turtles or the gelatinous delicacies they devour. The government will be required to review and, if necessary, regulate agricultural waste, pollution, oil spills, power plants, oil drilling, storm-water runoff and liquid natural gas projects along the California coast between Santa Barbara and Mendocino counties and off the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Aquaculture, tidal, wave turbine, desalination projects and nuclear power plants will have to consider impacts on jellyfish and sea turtles. For instance, the repermitting of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, in San Luis Obispo, will probably come under scrutiny.

While we know that sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish (with deadly results) these new protections will not impact the use or disposal of those bags.

Ocean Ecosystems

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Ocean Health Index

OCEAN ECOSYSTEMS, BY CAROLYN LABARBIERA AND RICK WILSON

Can the health of our global ocean be summed up in one number? How can we begin to prioritize both the threats our oceans face and the necessary remedial measures?

Founded by Conservation International, the National Geographic Society, and The New England Aquarium, the Ocean Health Index is an innovative approach to measure the health of our oceans annually, or whenever new data is available. Made up of 10 broad policy goals, ranging from water cleanliness to seafood provisions, the Index acts as a holistic measurement that encapsulates human values and the benefits reaped by the ocean. The overall goal of this common metric is to not only reveal the benefits received, but the tradeoffs among benefits and the impact of human activities on the persistence of ecosystem service/benefit delivery. Acting as a measuring stick, this Index aims to help policy makers and raise awareness of the threats facing our oceans. The higher the score, the more optimal the oceanic conditions and management are; the lower the score, the less optimal and a greater need for change.

The development of the Index was a difficult task, since some scientists claim we know more about outer space than we do our oceans. Limitations in available data, along with differing definitions of the word “health”, were hurdles that had to be overcome.

The first iteration of the Ocean Health Index was released in August 2012. The analysis was a collaborative effort made possible through contributions from more than 65 scientists/ocean experts. According to the analysis, the overall global ocean health score is 60 out of a sustainable state scored at 100, indicating that the human-ocean relationship is out of balance and unsustainable. Country-specific and goal-specific scores are also available.

Here at the Surfrider Foundation, we see the development of the Ocean Health Index as not only fostering communication and awareness, but also promoting positive, sustainable change in ocean stewardship.

If you any questions regarding our Ocean Ecosystem program at Huntington Beach/Seal Beach Surfrider, please refer your inquiries to Gene Rascon, Ocean Ecosystem Chair – surfcityart@gmail.com