In Case You Missed It: Keeping California’s Prime Fishing Spots Open

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

fisherman-sCalifornia’s Marine Life Protection Act was passed to safeguard the health and productivity of ocean resources, and well-designed marine reserves have been shown to boost fishing yields and profits. By protecting the places where fish and shellfish feed and breed, California can rebuild depleted fish populations while leaving the vast majority of coastal waters open to fishing (see a map of fishing areas left open under a compromise marine protected area plan proposed for southern California).

Bill Weinerth has been fishing off California’s coast for more than 50 years. In an opinion editorial in Saturday’s Ventura County Star, he said:

I say that if we don’t set aside some key spots now, we won’t have any reason to pass on our fishing knowledge; there will be few fish left. Our fishing experiences and traditions are falling into myth: I couldn’t take my boys back to the places in Malibu where my dad taught me and expect to pull in the same size and quantity. The simple fact is, the fish we do catch are smaller and it’s harder to get them.

My sons, skilled fishermen, have to go farther out every year for those smaller fish. The fishing culture of my childhood is not there anymore — but I believe that marine protected areas can help bring back some of what we’ve lost.


California’s Ocean Heritage: Past and Future (Click to view and read large version)

Weinerth’s experience of fewer and smaller fish is borne out by the data. According to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s research, California’s commercial fishing revenues have declined by more than half since 1990, and the number of fishing boats calling at California ports has declined by nearly three quarters in the same period.

A well-designed system of marine reserves and protected areas would help rebuild California’s struggling fishing industry. It worked at the Channel Islands, where, five years after the state established a network of marine reserves, a study found that sportfishing had increased as had commercial landings for some of the Island’s largest fisheries: squid, urchin, lobster and crab.

Plans for Southern California’s new marine protected area network will be finalized by the Fish and Game Commission at their December 15 meeting in Santa Barbara. Ocean advocates, who dominated the public comment session at the Commission’s October meeting, are expected to make a strong showing again, urging protection of treasured places like La Jolla, Catalina, and Naples Reef off the Gaviota Coast. The time is now to make your voice heard to the Commission, so please write a letter or take a scenic ride up to Santa Barbara to be a part of history.

Published in Marine Conservation

Coastkeeper Honors Volunteer of the Year, Hall of Fame Volunteers

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

{gallery}galleries/Volunteer Appreciation Party 2010:400:300:1:2{/gallery}We couldn’t have hoped for a better setting to induct our first class into the San Diego Coastkeeper Volunteer Hall of Fame.  With sweeping views of San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, our staff spent the afternoon at Kate Sessions Park inducting a truly deserving group into eternal glory and fame. . . at least in our minds.

The first group of volunteers inducted was our Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer Hall of Fame, which is made up of volunteers that have been active for over a year in collecting samples, testing for pollutants and analyzing results in our lab. This group dedicates one or two full days per month to provide water quality data that will ultimately lead to the cleanup of our local watersheds. We couldn’t be happier to induct these amazing people to our first class:


William “Skip” Price
Adam Taylor
Adrian Kinnane
Al Barret
Amanda Sousa
Beth Hendershot
Bruce Hendershot
Cathryn Henning
Cynthia Gorham
Debby Knight
Dan Murphy
Frank Kawasaki
Graham Szybala
George Liddle
Jack Marshall
Jim Brown
Kacey Cinciarelli
Karen Waggoner
Rebecca Kanter
Rexanne Dayes
Rob Park
Sierra Basegio
Steve Kwik
Sandi Jacobson
Taya Lazootin
Tom Bernitt

Our second group, the San Diego Coastkeeper Volunteer Hall of Fame, is made up of our outstanding Volunteer Core members, our beach cleanup leaders and lead Volunteer Boat Captain.  While this group varies in terms of their support for San Diego Coastkeeper’s mission, they all share the commitment to protecting our inland and coastal waters. We are very excited to induct the following members:

Amanda Sousa
Megan Stone
Sierra Basegio
Taya Lazootin
James Sebree
Rebecca Kanter
Kevin Straw


Amanda Sousa, our first ever Volunteer of the Year, accepts her honorary prize of two limited edition San Diego Coastkeeper champagne glasses. Will you volunteer in time to get yours?

And, of course, a volunteer party wouldn’t be complete without the first ever Volunteer of the Year Award. Amanda Sousa, a true community leader, is our most deserving winner.  Read more about all Amanda’s endeavors here.

We’d like to thank our generous sponsors, Burger Lounge in Little Italy for the burgers, Alaskan Brewing Co. and Coastal CODE for the beer, and Keg N Bottle for the ice, keg pump, and cooler.  It’s great to have community businesses that recognize how much our volunteers contribute to accomplishing our mission.

Inspired to join the team?  Contact me, Dylan, our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, to learn more about volunteering in San Diego for the region’s leading organization dedicated to protecting our waters.



There’s an App for That! (Clean water that is.)

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

REI is one of our favorite partners. They support San Diego Coastkeeper’s education and outreach work. And now they’ve come up with a fun way to make your social network work for you and your clean water.

Starting now (right now!) every time someone “checks in” at REI on their smart phone, REI will donate a buck to San Diego Coastkeeper. You can check in once a day every day and REI will donate up to $100,000 to charities across the nation.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Open the Facebook Deals app on your phone (you’ll also be able to check for discounts in your neighborhood when you check in…here’s the Facebook explanation of how to get Facebook Deals app
  • On your personal profile page touch the location icon next to the “what’s on your mind?” field.  The location icon is shaped like a tear drop.
  • The screen will show a list of nearby locations. Select the REI location where you want to check-in.
  • You’re checked-in, and REI donated $1 to clean water in San Diego!

$100,000 – That’s a year of clean beaches, two years of Kindergarteners learning about clean water or five years of lab supplies for water quality tests. And all you have to do is get the app and check in.

So download the Facebook Deals app, check in at REI stores in San Diego, Chula Vista or Encinitas every day and help us keep San Diego’s inland and coastal waters clean!

The hardest decision in my Coastkeeper history

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

BRuce_Reznik_blogChange can be a good thing.

Today I announced my departure from Coastkeeper, an organization that I’ve had the pleasure to lead for the past 11 years.  I am stepping down as Executive Director immediately, though I’ll continue to work as an advocate for the organization and its work. In my time at the helm, I’ve watched our organization transition from Baykeeper to Coastkeeper, achieve amazing successes, and grow our staff from two into an entire office full of environmental experts. We’ve become a large family dedicated to protecting the waters in San Diego, and one that I’ve grown to love.

Since 1995, together with you, we’ve won many environmental victories for our region. We have successfully helped to educate children, remove trash from beaches and waterways, improve stormwater regulations, build a water quality monitoring program, advocate for sustainable policies, reduce sewage spills and beach advisories and so much more. Together, we have built a vibrant environmental community that makes coastal protection a larger part of the public and political conversation.

And for that, I’m thrilled.

It is with this solid base and stellar reputation that we’ve built for Coastkeeper, I know that the organization will continue to safeguard the community’s waters. I look forward to my next adventure, and the organization looks forward to its next decade.

Today is a day of change, and it’s good.

Putting the Brakes on Copper Pollution

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Few of us think of the water quality implications of stopping at a traffic light or inching along in rush hour traffic. But every time you apply your brakes you are contributing to copper pollution in our creeks, bays and beaches. The problem is that most cars have brake pads made with copper. When you stop, copper dust is deposited on the roadway.  With irrigation flows or rain, the copper is carried into our local waterways. Copper in our environment can be toxic to aquatic wildlife especially at the base of the food chain.

In San Diego, cities are under tight deadlines to reduce copper polluting our local waterways. Finding ways to stop copper at its source helps cities facing costly treatment options or fines for lack of progress. As an advocate who lobbied for many of the restoration plans and permits cities now have to implement, I wanted to help where I could. San Diego Coastkeeper teamed up with environmental groups like Sustainable Conservation in the Bay Area, who has been working in this area for years to help craft a plan to address the copper in brake pads. But first we had to find a legislator to help us.

Regulators have been aware of the problem since 1996, but nearly 15 years passed before environmentalists, local governments and brake pad manufacturers could come to agreement. The bill, SB 346, that ultimately passed this year was championed by State Senator Christine Kehoe. Senator Kehoe understood the need to keep vehicle safety in mind while pushing the industry to find copper alternatives. SB 346 requires brake pad manufacturers to reduce the use of copper to no more than 5 percent by 2021 and no more than 0.5 percent by 2025.

When the bill was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in September I was glad to finally start down the road to phasing out copper brake pads. It’s nice to know our everday activities are getting just a little greener.

Published in Urban Runoff

From Organic Farming to Drinking Water: Water Purification in San Diego

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Our Tijuana River water quality tests from last week got me thinking about the safety of food grown at Suzie’s Farm, located in the Tijuana River Valley. I receive my Community Support Agriculture (CSA) box from Suzie’s Farm every Wednesday, and I wondered if the water quality of the Tijuana River put my organically certified grown food at risk.

So I asked.

Lucila, who owns the wonderfully titled job of Head Weed Puller, responded with this note:

Being a USDA certified organic farm we are concerned with water quality too. We use a well that is tested yearly and certified. The well has been found to be at a level consistent with 10,000 years ago; so it’s pretty deep. Our well water is then run through a reverse osmosis system, so the water with which we irrigate our fields is more pure than San Diego City water. We do not irrigate with water from the river.

Feel free to contact us with more questions or concerns regarding our water quality or any of our agricultural practices.

This means that Suzie’s Farm grows the food I serve for dinner with water so pure, it’s better than what comes out of my tap. Which begs the question, could this process be used to help with our currently endangered water supply?

At Coastkeeper, we advocate for a wasterwater purification process to help our region find reliable sources of water. The Point Loma Sewage Treatment Plant currently treats sewage and pumps it into to our ocean. Rather than dispose of that water, we want the city to run it through a similar reverse osmosis process used by Suzie’s Farm so that we can add the highly purified water to our drinking reservoir, and thus increase our water supply. It’s water so pure, it’s drinkable.

You can learn more about this process, called Indirect Potable Reuse, on our website. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this potential water supply.

Vote in San Diego: exercise your right to vote in order to protect our environment!

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

San Diego County’s Registrar of Voters is predicting a 55 to 65 percent voter turnout for today’s election. That means that only slightly more than half of eligible voters will have input on picking our governor, selecting local representatives, ensuring public safety and deciding important environmental issues.  

On the ballot this year are propositions protecting California State Parks, implementing AB 32 to reduce greenhouse gases and address climate change and ensuring polluters pay for the damage their pollution causes.  To learn more about Prop 21, Prop 23, and Prop 26, check out Coastkeeper’s Voting Guide.

With such important issues facing the electorate this year and with so many people disenchanted with the way government works right now, why are people not voting?  We have tea parties, rallies to restore honor, sanity, and/or fear, and hours of endless political debate on multiple news channels, but our voter turnout is still only projected to be between 55 and 65 percent?!

Voting may be a right, but we should not forget that it is also a privilege. From this country’s founders, to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to Martin Luther King, great men and women have fought—and died—so that citizens have a say in how they governed. Over the years, Americans have battled against voting restrictions based on sex, race, status as property owners, literacy, and even poll taxes aimed against those with lower income. Others have struggled long and hard for our right to vote, our right to voice our opinion on how we are governed.

Please, whatever else you do today, GO VOTE! Don’t know where to go? Find out where to vote in San Diego.

Tijuana River Pollution Quiz

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Pop quiz time.

Which of these ammonia test results are from the Tijuana River?
Which of these phosphate test results are from the Tijuana River?

If you guessed the dark blue ones, you are correct! Give yourself an A.

These test tubes are some of the results from last weekend’s volunteer water quality monitoring event. The ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate levels in the Tijuana River were literally off the charts high. When it rains (which it recently had), the treatment facilities get overwhelmed and raw sewage flows into the river and out to the ocean. Our water quality tests show those trends in the water quality.

Check out Jen’s blog on July’s Tijuana River Valley sewage spill to learn more about efforts underway to fix this problem.  

You can check out the results of our water monitoring efforts at the watershed wiki. And don’t forget to check the current beach status before you head out into the water.

Vote Yes on Prop 21

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

If only our state’s budget were as pristine and inspiring as its parks. Imagine vast expanses of green, flowing cash as far as the eye can see, enough to pay for all kinds of awesome projects like better schools and functioning public transportation. Yeah…well, at least we’ll always have our state parks to go relax and get a break from all the other headshaking nonsense. Or will we?

Over the last several years, the state’s budget has consistently reduced park funding. Apparently some people consider our state parks to be a luxury rather than the communal necessity that they are. Fortunately, concerned citizens can defend and fund our parks ourselves!

On Nov. 2 and vote YES on Prop 21 (NO EXCUSES!!). Prop 21 will require every California registered vehicle to pay a small additional fee that will directly fund state parks. I can hear some of you grumbling about another tax and a tough economy. I hear you (believe me, I’m not exactly rollin’ in dough), but this is well worth it. For $18 a year per vehicle we can collectively generate $500 million in revenue. That money will not get tied up in the general budget. We’ll exclusively spend it on our state parks–this means that no matter what terrible shenanigans go down elsewhere, we’ll always have great places to escape to!

Prop 21 will also provide all California residents with FREE day access to all parks. Anyone ever forked out $10 to park at Cardiff or San-O? Ever done it twice in a week? Your $18 just paid for itself! And do I need to mention the family trips to Big Sur that you dream of?

Remember those underwater state parks you all have fought so diligently create? Prop 21 will also help fund enforcement of the new marine protected areas that the Marine Life Protection Act will establish.

Our state parks, on land and in our coastal waters, set California apart. They are a cornerstone of our heritage and a symbol of hope for our future.

And hey, if that is not reason enough for you to vote YES on Prop 21, well maybe this little Prop 21 endorsement from a some cool guy named Mickey Hart (from band called the Grateful Dead, ever heard of them?) will help sway your opinion.

Yes for State Parks! Yes on Prop 21.

Published in Marine Conservation

Bearded Pirate and Old Friend Joins the Ranks of Coastkeeper

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper


Captain Scott Schaad and First Mate (and Staff Accountant) Victor Vasquez on patrol for pollution

Scott Schaad still owes me 10 margaritas at Fred’s in Old Town. Granted it was a ridiculous bet years ago, but I’m still holding him to it. And as crazy as it seems, I forgot that I actually had free drinks waiting for me at one of my favorite Taco Tuesday spots. That was until I had the true pleasure of welcoming our newest Volunteer Boat Captain Scott Schaad to the Coastkeeper family last week.  

You see, Scott and I use to be co-trip leaders for Aztec Adventures, SDSU’s outdoor recreation program. Back in our undergrad days, Scott and I had the oh-so-terrible job of taking fellow students down to Baja’s beautiful and pristine coastline for weekend kayaking and surf trips. On one of these adventures, Scott and I were taking some students kayaking through a pristine coastline just south of Ensanda; a place I can only hope San Diego’s entire coastline looks like again someday. After a long day of paddling, Scott and I attempted to cook a delicious dinner and dessert for our eagerly awaiting group of students. Unfortunately, our dessert concoction turned out to be what could only be considered an ill-conceived sugar, butter and pumpkin flavored soup with overtones of burnt toast.

While the dessert was a complete disaster, Scott didn’t want to waste the valuable calories, so he bet me ten margaritas that I couldn’t eat the whole thing.  Of course I did, and to date, I haven’t redeemed my bounty.  

After those college adventures, Scott and I got busy with that whole pesky “real life” thing and kinda lost touch. Luckily, the winds of fate changed, and our other Volunteer Boat Captain and Programs Director at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, Kevin, mentioned he knew a guy who would be interested in volunteering to help out with pollution patrols on our boat. That guy turned out to be my old friend Scotty Schaad, who is now working as the Lead Wakeboarding Instructor for the Aquatic Center.

We at Coastkeeper couldn’t be more stoked to welcome Scotty on board. With Kevin and Scott at the helm, our boat program is poised to take off.  I’ve had the chance to get to know both guys, and they both have a true passion for helping to protect our ocean ecosystems.


Captain Straw keeping a wary eye for violations of the Clean Water Act.

Our Coastkeeper staff has big plans to make the most of having these champions of the environment on board. Our toxic waterways crew has been out on the boat discussing ways to supplement the water quality data on our wiki with our boat program, and our education and outreach team is working with Scott and Kevin to reach out to the boating community to promote eco-friendly boating.

The best part of the whole story, for me, may be reconnecting with an old friend.  It’s always a great feeling to have such a good person in the mix, and even though I’m extremely grateful to Scott (and Kevin, of course!) for donating his time and energy . . . I’m still going to cash in on those margaritas.