oceansdaySan Diego Coastkeeper recently led the charge at the fifth annual Ocean Day held at the California State capitol building in Sacramento. The mission of Ocean Day is to “convey a unified message from the ocean and coastal community that educates and inspires decision makers to work toward effective solutions aimed at protecting and restoring California’s iconic ocean and coastline.” San Diego Coastkeeper served on the event’s steering (planning) committee, which was led by Environment California.

Throughout the day, advocates held meetings with members of the California State Senate and Assembly, and their staff, to discuss current ocean issues and urge the members’ direct action on upcoming bills. We discussed upcoming legislation which threatens to weaken the Coastal Act and streamline desaliniation permitting, as well as positive legislation supporting adaptation to climate change, riding our beaches of plastic foam, and listing of the leatherback sea turtle as California's official marine reptile. The delegation from San Diego was comprised of representatives of San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The welcoming ceremony for participants featured ocean champion Assemblywoman Julia Brownley. The ceremony was followed by an educational event on the capitol lawn highlighting the value of our oceans to both California's economy and lifestyle. Various organizations, from aquariums to surf companies and research institutes to activist groups, were represented. The California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a luncheon featuring presentations about Tracking Contaminates of Emerging Concern in California. To close the day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted a reception featuring sustainable seafood at the Sutter Club to celebrate California’s ocean and coast as well as to honor those who have helped to advance ocean health in our state. Governor Jerry Brown and other dignitaries spoke about the importance of protecting the future of our oceans, and colleagues from like-minded organizations who often work remotely were able to meet in person to discuss challenges and successes in the ocean conservation field.

Published in Marine Conservation

gale-filterPhoto Credit Jackie Loza I’m not sure if “brought them to their feet,” “brought them to their knees” or “brought them to tears (of laughter)” more aptly describes executive director Gale Filter’s  performance at San Diego Coastkeeper’s 15th Annual Ocean Gala. One thing is for sure: his appearance in a bright red king crab costume, proclaiming the plight of San Diego Bay and our region’s waterways, signaled a new era for water quality enforcement in San Diego.

The fundraiser and auction raised more than $110,000 to ensure Coastkeeper can empower our community to make fishable, swimmable and drinkable water throughout San Diego County a reality. After the past three plus months when I focused on the logistics of the event (which volunteers can help, who requested a vegetarian meal, how in the world will we fit a 10-foot decoration in a 10’1’’ high room), I felt sincere satisfaction and gratitude to see individuals and companies in San Diego rise to the challenge of contributing the funds we so urgently need to continue fighting for good decisions about our waterways. That and hearing Gale refer to his wife as “the crab cake of his life” made for some memorable moments.

ocean-galaPhoto Credit Jackie Loza We honored City Councilmember David Alvarez and Pacifica Companies CEO Ashok Israni as the 2011 Coastal Champions. Like so many others in our community, these two gentlemen embody what a diverse set of stakeholders can do together. It’s incredibly fitting that Councilmember Alvarez’s district and some of Pacifica Companies’ projects sit on the shore of San Diego Bay, where Coastkeeper’s attention turned immediately upon closing the Gala doors: to the final hearing about toxic sediment removal from San Diego Bay. This crowning moment in a 20 year battle exemplifies why we need to continue to raise funds for advocacy in San Diego. And why every person at the Ocean Gala made a difference on Saturday night.

Speaking of champions, I’d like to hand out a few awards of my own.

  • Our volunteers, who worked so very, very hard and are the foundation upon which we build our momentum and impact
  • IKEA San Diego whose centerpiece donation raised $1,700
  • Schmidt Design Group landscape architects whose water lite display spread the message about water-wise gardens in a unique and beautiful new way
  • David Welborn, our board president, whose ability to rise to the occasion, including a stately introduction of a human-sized crab, astounds me
  • The Barnwell Shift, whose music accompanied us throughout the evening: Oceanside locals, vehement supporters of San Diego Coastkeeper and really great guys
  • Kona Brewing Co.,  St. Petersburg Vodka and OneHOPE Wine, each of which donated their beverages to help us keep costs down and host our guests in style

It’s my job to make sure that Coastkeeper has the resources we need to speak for San Diego County waterways and the people in our community who value clean water. When an evening like the Ocean Gala comes together and I see the multitude of generous individuals who say, YES, I will help, I know that we stand together. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of everyone at San Diego Coastkeeper, thank you.

Miss the chance to raise your paddle at the Ocean Gala? You can still donate and have your contribution marked a part of this tremendously successful event.  

Published in Other green thoughts
Great news from Stockton, CA:
The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation

Great news from Stockton, CA:


The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.


If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation.




Published in Marine Conservation

This is the third of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of ASBS, the threats they face and the actions we can take to protect these biological hotspots for future San Diegans.

We know from our previous posts that once a coastal area is designated as an ASBS, discharges of any waste into that area are not allowed. That was part of the initial intent of the original 1972 ASBS policy – to protect ‘natural water quality.' At the time, no areas had been designated. By 1974, key areas of California’s coast were recognized as ‘special’ including the two areas off of La Jolla’s shoreline officially ASBS #29 and ASBS #31.

The newly planted ecology embankment at La Jolla Shores.Photo Credit: K. O'Connell

This no-discharge prohibition was codified in 1983 when the State Water Board amended the Ocean Plan to officially prohibit all waste discharges, both point and nonpoint, into ASBS. This was a forward looking and protective decision for marine conservation. Unfortunately, at the time, little was known about the number and types of waste discharges in any ASBS.  It was not until 2001 that the State Water Board discovered that indeed, waste discharges into ASBS were common.

A 2003 statewide survey found 1,654 potential violations along the coast of California, and identified 391 municipal or industrial storm drains that emptied directly into ASBS statewide. This survey found that both of our local ASBS areas were receiving discharges from several sources including the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s (SIO) waste seawater (from research facilities and the Birch Aquarium) and storm water runoff, and the City of San Diego’s discharges from pipes, drainage weeps and storm drains.

To remain in compliance with the Ocean Plan, discharges must be eliminated or specifically granted an exception. The State Board determined that it was in the best public interest to allow UCSD/SIO to continue to discharge but with 19 specific ‘limiting conditions’ to protect the ASBS. This 2004 ‘model exception’ required eliminating copper and formaldehyde from seawater discharges, removing exotic species in discharges, eliminating dry weather discharges from storm drains and extensive monitoring.

In 2005 the La Jolla Shores Watershed Management Group (WMG) was formed to address the ASBS issues raised in the exception process.  The WMG is a collaboration among UCSD/SIO, the City of San Diego, and San Diego Coastkeeper. Together, the WMG crafted an ambitious science-based management plan that spells out actions to protect and enhance water quality in our local ASBS.  In 2008, we finalized the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Plan.

Thankfully, this plan is not sitting on a shelf just gathering dust. Already, many of the actions identified in that report have been implemented.  For example, UCSD/SIO has finished installing an ‘ecology embankment’ at La Jolla Shores just north of Scripps Pier. This project has transformed the beach embankment into a stormwater workhorse – by implementing media filters, special ‘amended’ soils and native plants, the area will infiltrate and remove pollutants from dry weather flows and some of the first winter rains, all the while providing habitat for wildlife and adding even more beauty to our coastline. The actions laid out in the Management Plan have increased our understanding of our marine environment around La Jolla and have pushed us towards achieving improved water quality for the coast off La Jolla Shores. In upcoming blogs, we will talk in more detail about many of these actions, what we know so far about their impacts, and spell out how local residents can implement some of these actions at home. Stay tuned!




Published in Marine Conservation

Maunuka-sofullycoverWe at Manuka are stoked to announce the most ultimately rad giveaway of a Seth Pettersen album and Manuka T-shirt and the official collaboration of Manuka with San Diego Coastkeeper! As you know, through passionate efforts using education, empowerment and advocacy, San Diego Coastkeeper works to protect inland and coastal waters. And it is because of its success in doing so that Manuka feels honored to collaborate in raising funds for the protection of Mother Ocean.

Today, we present the challenge for the ultimate prize of our giveaway.

Manuka-OilSpillShirtThe best response to the following question will win the Seth Pettersen album "So Fully" as well as a free "Oil Spills Don't Make Good Waves" Manuka t-shirt. Answers will be judged on creativity and relation to Mother Ocean (you can find good ways to do this at San Diego Coastkeeper's website). Second place gets a pack of San Diego Coastkeeper stickers and a high five! Email your responses by Dec. 16 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

And the question is: How are you "water" as defined in Seth Pettersen's song "We Are Water"?

The other super cool thing about today is that you can start helping out San Diego Coastkeeper buy purchasing Manuka's "Oil Spills Don't Make Good Waves" t-shirt for $18.00. We'll donate $4 from every tee to San Diego Coastkeeper.

For if Seth is water, so is Manuka...and you should be too.

Published in Other green thoughts

“Greedy little people in a sea of distress

Keep your more to receive your less.”

RedHotChiliPeppersjeffro at 3/17/06 blog on www.lastsecondthoughts.com via Creative Commons

Sure it also talks about Bob Marley and fertility, but “Give It Away” is the Red Hot Chili Peppers hard rock ode to living an altruistic life: the more you give away, the better your life will be. If the dating stories are true then we have a gift from Nina Hagen to Anthony Kiedis to thank for this life lesson in a song.

I believe the lyrics. But times are tough, right? Lucky for us, the Wall Street Journal doesn’t just report about market bubbles and the NASDAQ; It tells us how to give smarter. In this article from last month, the WSJ posted one of those “Top 10” lists. Actually it’s a top six list…even easier.

The basic message is:

  • Do your homework on the cause you want to support (check websites and call or email an organization if you have questions)
  • Figure out how to increase the benefit you provide without actually increasing your gift (look for matching gifts that double your donation)
  • If what you really have to offer is the expertise of a career or a willingness to stuff envelopes as you watch reruns of Magnum PI, volunteer your time and skills.

Personally, I give to about five good organizations with missions from economic development to college scholarships to environmental education. I give to San Diego Coastkeeper because I want Coastkeeper to give me a strong voice with people who make decisions about the importance of clean water. I’ve asked friends, family and perfect strangers to do the same. I give because I know Coastkeeper from top to bottom, and it’s my best bet for a healthy ocean. (And, yeah, it’s getting cold and I wanted the organic cotton sweatshirt).

VolunteerAppreciationParty_groupshotGet your friends excited about your cause

Make it fun!

  • Host a party and invite friends to donate the value of a meal out (or more or less…the point is to excite new people about your cause).
  • Start a donation gift exchange with your family and friends for this year’s holidays.
  • Doing a Turkey Trot? Use Race Raiser to sponsor your organization for your next 5K, century or triathlon.

Have questions about Coastkeeper? Want to get involved? Come visit or call (619.758.7743 ext. 103 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Realize I don’t want to be a miser.”

Whatever you do, if we all pitch in and invest smartly in good organizations, we’re on the right track. After I give, I give a little more because I know that the more I give, the more I receive.

Published in Other green thoughts
Photo credit DivineDinnerParty.com

I’m Canadian. Among the many subtle (and not so subtle) differences between home and here is Thanksgiving. We do celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada but with a few differences: it is earlier in the year, it is always on a Monday and there is no “Black Tuesday.” But the essentials are the same – families come together around the table to celebrate a harvest feast that includes most of the same cornucopia of yummy and very rich, fatty dishes Americans eat (buttery mashed potatoes, candied yams, turkey, all covered in gravy). But one thing we don’t really do for the most part in Canada is the phenomenon that is the deep fried turkey. My co-worker was telling me that her family will put a turkey deep fryer out on their driveway, fry their bird and then slowly neighbors will make their way over to fry their bird one after the other. It takes about 3- 5 gallons of oil to deep fry a turkey, so this strategy is a great one - friends and neighbors make good use of the oil and have a good time while doing it.

Thanksgiving is a great time wherever you celebrate it but, as all the fat from those rich dishes start to course through your veins and you sluggishly push away from the table to loosen the top button of your pants, consider for a moment what happens to all the fat you did not eat? Which leads me to this question – what to do with all that fat still on your plates or sitting in your deep fryer?

Few people know or realize that the fat leftover from our cooking and eating has a direct link to keeping our oceans and beaches clean and safe. This is because the fat we send down our drain when we are cleaning up after dinner (any dinner, not just Thanksgiving) is a contributor to one of the most common causes of sewage spills in the United States. Nationally, approximately 80 percent of the sewage spills that happen are due to what people in the wastewater industry refer to as F.O.G. – Fats, oils, and grease. F.O.G. that goes down our drains can stick to the sides of the pipes and just like fat in our arteries, it can build up. Overtime, F.O.G. can build to enormous quantities in our sewage pipes and can lead to sewage spills.

Here in San Diego, we regularly have sewage spills because of F.O.G. Over the past year in San Diego County, 17 sewage spills were caused by F.O.G., releasing over 15,000 gallons of sewage, 6,215 of which reached surface waters in our area. Coastkeeper has been working for almost fifteen years to keep sewage out of the water in San Diego so we understand that preventing these types of spills is an important part of maintaining the health of our oceans.

So, the answer to my question is - don’t pour the F.O.G. in your sinks or toilets. Also, flushing grease down a drain with soapy, hot water only moves the problem further down the system, it doesn’t eliminate it. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Follow these simple guidelines put out by the City of San Diego.
  • For small amounts of F.O.G., scrape out or use paper towels to wipe your pans, and then place the F.O.G. or soiled paper towels in the garbage.
  • Pour excess fat into used milk or frozen juice cartons, let harden and then place it in your garbage.
  • For larger amounts of F.O.G. (like after deep frying that turkey), City of San Diego residents can recycle their cooking oil and grease at the Miramar Landfill Recycling Center. A cooking oil recycling bin is available to for disposal of up to 30 gallons of cooking oil and grease. There is no charge for the service.
  • I Love a Clean San Diego refers people to the closest place to recycle cooking oil all over the county.
  • Or maybe you can consider doing what the City of San Francisco did and put that cooking fat to work fueling your car!

JBwithDolphins_apr08www.matthewmeierphoto.com “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when it clearly should be named Ocean.”
-- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Imagine exploring another world just beneath the surface of the ocean. As you enter the blue water you see sunlight streaming through majestic stalks of giant kelp and know you are in for a great dive. You head to the bottom of the ocean and start looking for colorful creatures including nudibranchs, anemones and fish hiding in crevices.

While diving, there is nothing quite like the exhilaration of seeing a shark swim gracefully by you, the humor in a curious Harbor Seal peering over your shoulder or the awe in watching dozens of playful sea lions whizzing by you. I feel so fortunate that I get to explore the underwater world and see these strange and beautiful creatures. SCUBA diving is why I chose a career working to protect marine and coastal resources. I want to be a voice for the ocean, and do what I can to protect this amazing world and the animals that call it home.

Right now, you have the chance to make history and support stronger, expanded marine protected areas in southern California. It is imperative that we protect these special places for future generations to enjoy.

Now, call a buddy, don your gear, and explore San Diego’s underwater world. I know I will soon!

If you want to help protect the Yosemite’s of the sea:
•    Write the Fish & Game Commission to tell them to select strong marine protected areas in San Diego
•    Eat sustainable Seafood
•    Volunteer for a beach cleanup, water monitoring or our volunteer core

Published in Marine Conservation

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Swimmable Facts

  • Urban runoff is the number one threat to water quality in San Diego. 
  • San Diego beaches close for 3 days after it rains. Pollution prevention and better testing will get us get back in the water sooner.
  • One of the top dive and snorkel sites in San Diego is a MPA (La Jolla-Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve). You can swim there with leopard sharks and the Garibaldi, the state marine fish of California.
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