Local assemblywoman introduces Ocean Life Recovery Act
‘California’s marine ecosystems are under unprecedented threat from climate change, pollution, and coastal development,’ Addis said
– Assemblywoman Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) this week introduced the Ocean Life Recovery Act to accelerate California’s marine habitat restoration efforts by establishing recovery goals for critical ocean ecosystems and a state structure to develop and support restoration projects.
“California’s marine ecosystems are under unprecedented threat from climate change, pollution, and coastal development,” Addis said. “This critical legislation will set California on a path to restore our vital ocean habitats so that we can preserve these cultural and natural wonders for generations to come.”
“Improving the health of our oceans is a critical part of mitigating some of the worst impacts of climate change,” said State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), principal co-author of the bill. “Establishing these goals will allow us to measure progress and rehabilitate important habitat.”
“Protecting our ocean habitat must happen now before it is too late, I am happy to join Assemblymember Addis on this important legislation,” said bill co-author Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz). “We have recently witnessed the damage that can be done by climate change, with the atmospheric rivers we just experienced. This is just one sobering reminder that we must act now to address climate change.”
Assembly Bill 1407 focuses on the restoration and recovery of the foundation of nearshore ecosystems – kelp, eelgrass, and native oysters. This wildlife is ecologically important in marine life food systems and is home to a variety of invertebrates, fishes, marine mammals, and birds. The collapse of Northern California kelp forests has been documented by the University of California, Santa Cruz researchers who found that the forest had declined by 95% in a 2021 study.
“With more than a 90% decline of key marine habitats, it’s time we stand up for our oceans,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Director of External Affairs & Policy for the California Oceans Program Jay Ziegler. “This bill is a critical first step towards aligning the state and Californians to invest the time and resources to protect California’s unique biodiversity and sustain our coastal communities.”
“California has an opportunity to reverse the rapid declines we’ve seen in critical coastal habitats like kelp forests, eelgrass meadows, and native oyster beds,” said Margaret Spring, chief conservation and science officer at Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We can’t lose the places that buffer communities from storms, serve as nurseries for our fisheries, and lock away the atmospheric carbon that drives climate change. It’s past time for a coordinated strategy and ambitious goals to restore these ecosystems. This bill will lay that groundwork, with our state partners leading the way.”
AB 1407 adds California to the growing list of regions and states who are actively engaged in this work by establishing clear restoration targets for acres of kelp forests, eelgrass meadows, and native oyster beds restores. Moreover, AB 1407 facilitates interagency coordination to address hurdles that slow restoration efforts and creates an Ocean Restoration and Recovery Fund to support the development and execution of large-scale marine restoration and enhancement projects.