Meeting Notes

Presenters:

  • James Ray, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
    • Note that Kristen Elsmore is the new CDFW point of contact for kelp restoration – kelp(at)wildlife.ca.gov
  • Lara Slatoff, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Michael Esgro, California Ocean Protection Council

Attendees:

  • 49 total
  • Self-Identified Affiliations:
    • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
    • Ocean Protection Council
    • MPA Collaborative Network Staff, Co-Chairs, and Members
    • Commercial urchin divers and fishermen
    • CA State Parks
    • LA Waterkeeper
    • Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    • California Marine Sanctuary Foundation
    • California Sea Urchin Commission
    • Heal the Bay
    • MPA Watch
    • California Academy of Sciences
    • Marine Applied Research and Exploration
    • Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones Association
    • Puget Sound Conservation and Recovery Plan, Friday Harbor Labs
    • Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
    • Middlebury Institute of International Studies
    • Scientific Diver
    • North Coast Evaluation of Reef Ecosystems Organization

Presentation (review recording and presentation for full details):

  • Summarize kelp status statewide
    • North, Central, and South Coast
    • Why is kelp important
  • Highlight current restoration and research efforts
    • Grazer control – purple sea urchins
      • Overview of ongoing research projects with commercial and recreational divers
    • Kelp enhancement – outplanting kelp
      • Overview of ongoing research projects with different labs
    • Kelp recovery research program by Sea Grant California and Ocean Protection Council
      • Overview of research projects – highlights diversity of research being done
    • Ecosystem resiliency with The Nature Conservancy
      • Overview of research happening along the West Coast
    • Future directions for kelp management

Questions and Topics Discussed (review recording for full details):

  • Otters and abalone, how do they figure in
    • Otters only eat healthy urchins, not the starving ones in urchin barrens
    • Josh Smith at UCSC recent research – what is the role of otters in maintaining healthy kelp forests – https://www.pnas.org/content/118/11/e2012493118
  • Infection mechanism between Pisaster and Pycnopodia
    • Being investigated as part of causative agent investigations at UW.
  • Food web effects and rockfish recruitment – when you lose bull kelp, what effects are you seeing in food web? e.g., for rockfish juveniles, kelp beds are critical for recruitment
    • Can’t definitively say right now what long term implications are but it seems like rockfish aren’t in the areas they used to be with kelp cover loss.
  • What is heat acclimatized kelp
    • Kelp that is grown in a lab in warmer waters that is then out planted to try and increase resiliency to marine heat waves. Strains of kelp that are genetically more resistant. Once you take individuals out in lab, do they have greater success.
  • Are there specific requirements for facilities that are raising Pycnopodia and or kelp that will be outplanted after being raised in captivity?
    • Department pathologists looks at all the info before considering outplanting, worried about introduction of disease and nonnative species.
    • Often SCPs are required to do outplanting activity.
  • Seeing well-meaning people over harvesting urchins from all over the coast because they are concerned. How can those on the ground help communicate about this? What are the data needs of the state that others can help fill in?
    • Interested in talking more about data needs and using Community and Citizen Science to help fill formal monitoring data gaps.
    • It’s about bringing the ecosystem back into balance, not wanting to kill every urchin in CA.
    • There are commercial, ecological, and restoration interests in urchins – a matter of messaging and finding the right approach.
  • How do current rates of kelp loss compare with other events like in the 80s and 90s? If left alone, would it recover based on historical events or is this unique?
    • Strong correlations with historic warming events and loss of kelp.
    • What is unique now is combination of factors and lack of recovery.
    • Data indicates that these types of “once-in-a-decade events” are going to increase and we might not have much time in between these events, so good to think about strategies to mitigate that now.
  • North Coast – likely to see more marine heat waves, thinking of future of resiliency and replanting – does it make sense to introduce more Macrocystis (giant kelp)?
    • Macrocystis’s lack of presence isn’t just heat related but also energy dynamics, it is bigger with higher drag usually only see them where they are tucked away.
    • All avenues are on the table for discussion as we see what happens in next few years, and in the building of the restoration and management plans it would be a good forum for discussion about these things.
  • Highlight how community diver restoration program in Monterey had to be done through a change in Fish and Game regulation and not SCP due to limitations on the number of species you can remove. Emphasis on urgency of this issue – best plan of action is protecting kelp you do have and outplanting is plan b.
  • Is there a monetary amount for monitoring vs. pay to commercial divers for Noyo area? Is there a number/cost for clearing one acre with commercial divers with outside monitoring?
    • Haven’t done those calculations yet, but plan to.
    • Funding was about evenly split between paying commercial divers and robust scientific monitoring.
    • As we look to scaling up after pilot project how can more of our money be spent on actual restoration and streamline monitoring a bit?
    • Always will be a monitoring component to make sure what the State is paying for in terms of restoration is effective.
  • What is the benchmark for a balanced ecosystem?
    • Relies on what time scales we are thinking about these things.
    • Looking at what ecosystems looked like prior to collapse in 2014.
    • Open to this being a point of further discussion.
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