Press Release: Speaker Atkins releases bill requiring lobbying transparency at Coastal Commission

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For immediate release

February 17, 2016

CONTACT:
Serge Dedina, WiLDCOAST, serge@wildcoast.net, 619.606.0537
Susan Jordon, California Coastal Protection Network, sjordan@coastaladvocates.com, 805-637-3037

Speaker Atkins releases bill requiring lobbying transparency at Coastal Commission

Sacramento, CA – In the wake of the controversial vote to oust Executive Director Charles Lester last week, Speaker Toni Atkins has released a bill designed to increase transparency and accountability at the California Coastal Commission and reduce the influence of special interests.  The Commission reviews projects worth billions of dollars.  Yet, for decades, lobbyists have been able to woo Commissioners without the public’s knowledge of how much these lobbyists are paid or by whom.  The bill is co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Stone and Levine.

Atkins was clearly troubled by the Commission’s decision to terminate Dr. Lester, who was widely regarded as a fair and competent public servant. Following hours of public testimony at the February 10 hearing, the Commission chose to retire to closed session, despite the advice of legal counsel that they could deliberate in public. Following the 7-5 vote to fire Lester, Atkins tweeted, “Let me apologize to the public. I truly thought my appointees would be better stewards of the coast.”

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50 fascinating facts about the ocean

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With over 71% of the world’s surface covered in ‘global ocean,’ there is a huge amount still to learn about this vast watery desert. It is strange to think that we already know quite a lot about the waters that cover our planet, however scientists and marine biologists have only really explored 5% of the oceans. Seeing as the ‘global ocean’ is so large, it has been divided into 5 separate oceans, all of which are connected.

The largest ocean out of the 5 is the Pacific. The pacific is roughly the same size as all of the land on earth, put together. The Pacific Ocean is home to the deepest depths on earth, which is situated in the ‘Marina Trench’, which sits at approximately 11Km (6.8miles) below sea level. The Pacific is also home to the highest mountain on earth, which sits at 10Km (6.2miles) above sea level. Mount Everest is only 8.8Km above sea level.

The smallest ocean on earth is the Arctic Ocean and is home to the majority of sea ice on the planet. Did you know that nearly 7% of the ocean is covered with sea ice?

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On the water with WILDCOAST and LA Waterkeeper

Last week, WILDCOAST got the opportunity to join Captain Michael Quill and the team from Los Angeles Waterkeeper to experience first-hand their boat-based MPA Watch Program off Palos Verdes. Over the last two years, WILDCOAST has been carrying out a shore-based MPA Watch program in San Diego County, as part of a statewide effort, to understand how people are using our MPAs. Through the project we have trained over 80 volunteers.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper has a similar program, but from a different perspective; taking the surveys from a boat. Their mission is to record how people are using Los Angeles MPAs, specifically off-shore activities, while conducting outreach and education in and around the MPAs. Through volunteerism and friendly outreach this is an excellent way to directly educate and engage community stakeholders.

Most MPA Watch surveys in the state are being carried out from shore. LA Waterkeeper’s boat-based surveys compliments this work and greatly contributes to our understanding of how people are using the MPAs.

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Enjoy, but do not disturb!

The last weekend of spring break my husband and I took our daughter to La Jolla. She loves seeing the sea lions and brown pelicans and it was the perfect day for a beach day. When we got there, we noticed that there was a car show at Scripps Park. There was a lot of people, so we slowly made our way to La Jolla’s Cove beach and hoping that since it was later in the day, there wouldn’t be a lot of people.  We were wrong, the beach was packed, and right in the middle of that beach were five sleeping sea lions. There were a few more scattered around that small beach, some looked sick and tired. My husband and I wanted to leave but we decided to stay in case anybody would start harassing the sea lions. We could let them know, in a friendly way, that they shouldn’t be doing that.

We stayed at the beach and sat at good distance from the sea lions and saw people, mostly tourists, taking pictures of them and with them. Most of them were in awe of seeing wild animals in their natural habitats.  The sea lions were only there to rest. They were sleeping, trying not to care about all the crowd that surrounded them. But it was tough; kids were playing very close to them, people almost stepping on them, and some were trying to touch them. Fortunately, lifeguard J. Kerr was there on duty to make sure people kept a safe distant from the marine mammals.

 

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Marine Protected Areas Photo Contest

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How to be a “Good Tide Pooler”

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Underneath the water off of San Diego’s coastline there is an array of marine wildlife for you to explore. You don’t have to go very deep to experience these amazing creatures up close. During negative tides, head to your nearest shoreline reefs where water pools and find a window into the intertidal world.

Our MPAs are home to San Diego’s best places to “tide pool.” On the reefs around Swami’s, La Jolla and Point Loma you can find a diversity of wild marine invertebrates like sea stars, anemones, octopuses and sea hares among many others.

Although terrific places to view and learn about coastal and marine wildlife, tide pools and the reefs that house them are very sensitive ecosystems. Additionally, these animals and their homes are protected by our network of MPAs and their take is prohibited. So please visit, experience and enjoy San Diego’s tide pools but follow these simple rules and spread the word when you do:

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Happy Anniversary California MPAs!

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California celebrates first anniversary of underwater state park system.  South Coast parks a destination for surfing, kayaking, tide pooling and bird-watching

On December 19 2013, California celebrates the one-year anniversary of the nation’s only statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). These “underwater parks,” dotting the coast from Oregon to Mexico, provide safe havens for marine life to rebound and opportunities for people to get outside and enjoy nature. (View a map here). For a look at the outdoor adventures to be had in Southern California’s marine protected areas, check out this new 60-second video from Ocean Conservancy, How Do You MPA?

Many of California’s marine protected areas are located just offshore from state and county parks, and offer great winter activities. Here are five local highlights:

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La Jolla, San Diego: Each year, more than two million visitors are drawn to La Jolla for its beauty and bountiful sea life. The marine protected area at La J

olla Cove has recently been expanded and renamed Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve in honor of its Native American heritage. La Jolla features a sheltered kelp forest that’s teeming with leopard sharks, bright garibaldi, lobsters, octopus and much more.

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Surfing Dolphins in the Tijuana River Mouth MPA

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Two weekends ago, I spent my Sunday morning with the San Ysidro Girl Scouts at the Tijuana River Mouth State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA). The girls had a long weekend filled with activities and a trip to Los Angeles.

We had planned a beach cleanup, lunch and to then start our new Junior MPA Watch training. When I got to the site, their Girl Scout leader, Irene Barajas, informed me that the girls were really tired and would like to skip lunch and do the cleanup and the training, that way they could finish early.

It was a nice and breezy morning, the water was calm, and few people were out at the beach. We started the cleanup; the girls were very active, picking up cigarette butts, trash bags, plastic bottles and candy wrappers.  After an hour we started the training, I talked to them about why this Marine Protected Area (MPA) is biologically important  and all the different marine wildlife that inhabit the area.  As we were starting the training you could see they were tired, but these girls are tough and were ready to start learning.  I started explaining how to conduct the surveys and what to write on the data sheets when I pointed to the ocean and asked “What do you see?” Suddenly a pod of about three dolphins were swimming in the MPA. The girls got really excited, their eyes lit-up quickly and started talking to each other about how cool it was. Just when we thought it could not get any better, dolphins started jumping up, and putting on a show. We stopped the training for a few minutes and waited until the dolphins headed south.  One girl said, “This is better than Sea World, it’s natural!”

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