CA Coastkeeper Releases Ocean Climate Resiliency Action Plan

Kelp photo courtesy National Park Service

As part of its effort to produce a comprehensive “Blue New Deal” for dealing with how climate change is harming our oceans, this week the California Coastkeeper Alliance released its Ocean Climate Resiliency Action Plan.

“The sea level on California’s coast is projected to rise by more than a foot over the next 40 years, while ocean acidification and hypoxia have enormous impacts on the health and productivity of our marine ecosystems,” said California Coastkeeper Alliance Executive Director Sean Bothwell in a Nov. 13 news release. “We must act now to ensure the future of the 85% of Californians who live or work on or near the coast, as well as our $45 billion ocean-based economy.”

The five-page plan outlines five goals, all aimed at protecting the coastline as well as the people who live or work near it. The goals include:

  • Recycling 100% of wastewater by 2040 to prevent nutrient pollution, which exacerbates toxic algal blooms and creates ocean acidification hot spots.

  • Require nitrate removal at wastewater treatment facilities.

  • Establish policies to better protect aquatic health from large-scale agricultural operations, which contribute to ocean acidification.

  • Develop water quality protection areas around the 124 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and 34 Areas of Biological Significance (ASBS) in California.

  • Establish a permanent, statewide program to use high-quality sediment for wetland restoration, to retain nursery habitats for valuable fish species.

  • Create an incentive program for scuba divers to promote kelp forest restoration.

  • Develop a Living Shorelines Fund to help California’s 44 coastal communities strategically respond to sea level rise without resorting to seawalls and revetments, which accelerate beach erosion.

“On our coast, sea level is projected to rise by more than one foot over the next 40 years and four to five feet by the turn of the century,” states the action plan. “Scientists warn that sea level rise will be punctuated by episodic flood events as high tides coincide with stronger and more frequent storm surges, putting shoreline properties and ecosystems at risk.”

In late September, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 65, a bill authored by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) that authorized $40 million in infrastructure assistance to coastal communities dealing with sea-level rise.

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