Tomales Bay Aquaculture & MPA Updates

On March 6th 2018, EAC traveled to Santa Rosa to provide testimony before the Fish and Game Commission's Marine Resources Committee (MRC) on several topics including EAC's Marine Protected Area (MPA) Citizen Science Watch program, aquaculture Best Management Practices (BMPs), the proposed new aquaculture (Brodsky) lease, and future programmatic planning for the Bay. 

We look forward to continued involvement in a transparent public process around BMP rulemaking. In addition to addressing marine debris issues, the BMPs must comprehensively address habitat and wildlife protection (like eelgrass buffers and proper disposal of shells), navigational issues, and other environmental is important that the BMP regulations are promulgated prior to granting any new leases and that the regulations include regular (at least bi-annual) agency oversight.
— Ashley Eagle-Gibbs, EAC Conservation Director

EAC also submitted a joint letter (with Hog Island Oyster Company) in advance of the meeting in support of moving the BMP rulemaking process forward. The letter included a list of suggested BMPs focusing on marine debris reduction. 

Following California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff presentations (excerpted slides below), EAC and other concerned parties presented public comments. 

Following public comments by Hog Island Oyster Company, the Pacific Fisherman's Association, Robert Brodsky, Richard James (the Coastodian), California Audubon, and other stakeholders, MRC Commissioner Silva said that he would propose to the full Fish and Game Commission that the ground truthing re. culture methods, species, and existing leases continues; that the Department and the Commission move forward regarding BMPs and statewide regulations; and that the more regionally targeted efforts and partnerships regarding Tomales Bay regional planning continue with NGOs and the fishing industry.

[In the last five years], EAC’s program has trained over 200 volunteers and provided field trips to local colleges, high schools, and middle schools to learn about our unique network of [124] MPAs. 
— Ashley Eagle-Gibbs, EAC Conservation Director

At the MRC meeting, EAC also presented information about our Marin MPA Watch Citizen Science program, which is now approaching five years of data collection!

The MRC thanked EAC for our MPA work. EAC is excited to stay engaged in our work around Tomales Bay aquaculture and MPAs! 

More Information:
EAC and Hog Island Oyster Company's Joint Letter re. BMPs
MRC Meeting Agenda and Documents