Humboldt Currents Summer 2013

Casey AllenHumboldt Currents, Marine Protected Areas

The Humboldt Bay Artificial Reef Project has not shown any real progress this summer except for the public outreach. It appears the principles in the project are either busy fishing or on vacation. It is always hard to get things done in the summer. Reef presentations have been conducted for various Kiwanis, Rotary, and other organizations. All were very supportive but the common theme in response was ,“who is against it?” Because of this, it seems our next step is to seek out those who may oppose the project. No one has stepped forward against the reef so far and the fear is that after spending a great deal of time and money an 11th hour lawsuit will appear.

HASA has endorsed two MLPA Baseline Study proposals in conjunction with Humboldt State University. The first proposes to (quote):

“Develop a socioeconomic baseline characterization for the North Coast MPA network and adjacent areas that includes both consumptive and non-consumptive uses. This baseline will serve as a benchmark in which to assess future changes.
Conduct an assessment of initial socioeconomic changes for the North Coast MPA network and adjacent areas that documents short-term net socioeconomic benefits or costs following MPA implementation, and that utilizes historical and contextual sources of knowledge. “

A Fisherman Advisory Council would be formed in each North Coast port, representing commercial, charters, and recreational interests to assist in all aspects of the project, from design, review of data, and community support.

The second baseline study proposal (and again I quote):

“To characterize the baseline status of nearshore rocky reef fish assemblages in the North Coast study region (Point Arena to the Oregon border), including newly-created marine protected areas (MPAs), we will conduct collaborative fisheries sampling by partnering with charter fishing captains and volunteer anglers. This quantitative baseline will describe the species composition, size structure, and relative abundance of fishes inside and outside of MPAs in the North Coast Region for use as a benchmark against which to evaluate future MPA performance.”

This one includes a rockfish tagging program that has been a long talked about goal. The movements of rockfish are a mystery and that data will be valuable in improving management practices which will sustain a recreational fishery.

Award decisions will be made by California Sea Grant, CDFW, and the California Ocean Protection Council and will be announced in October.