California Ocean Protection Council
The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) was created in 2004 to help protect, conserve, and maintain healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems and the economies they support as set forth in the California Ocean Protection Act.
According to the OPC’s Strategic Plan (for 2012-2017), the Council is focusing on five areas: science-based decision-making, climate change, sustainable fisheries and marine ecosystems, coastal and ocean impacts from land-based sources, and existing and emerging ocean uses.
The OPC led the development of the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy for the section on “Ocean and Coastal Resources,” which identified several strategies to reduce future hazards to coastal ecosystems and infrastructure.
Following the strategy’s release, the OPC has continued to lead and coordinate efforts of the Coast and Ocean Climate Action Team (CO-CAT), a broad coalition of state agencies seeking to find practical ways to use their decision-making processes to reduce risks to humans and infrastructure while protecting the environment. In 2010, the team developed the State of California Sea-Level Rise (SLR) Guidance Document to assist in incorporating sea-level rise into all relevant planning and decisions. A subsequent resolution of the OPC in 2011, among other things, advises state agencies to implement the guidance document and to adopt adaptation principles from the 2009 state adaptation strategy.
At the August 27, 2014 OPC meeting, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution with a policy directive for state entities and non-state entities with projects using state funds or on state lands, to reduce climate risks to coastal and ocean resources. The resolution also directed OPC staff to work on key recommendations in the Safeguarding California Plan, including working with the State Coastal Leadership Group on Sea-level Rise to develop a concise visionary action plan.
The OPC also supports the improvement of scientific understanding of ocean acidification and hypoxia and the impacts to biological resources.
In September 13, 2012 the OPC formally charged the OPC Science Advisory Team, under the leadership of the California Ocean Science Trust, with convening a high-level ocean acidification and hypoxia science panel to provide decision makers with the knowledge needed to thoughtfully evaluate effective management actions. Recognizing the west coast-wide nature of the potential impacts, the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel is composed of leading scientists from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia who will look for driving mechanisms that are common to the entire Pacific coast.
The OPC is funding research through California Sea Grant to provide insights into effects of the upwelling of acidic waters and implications for shellfish along the California coast, and has approved funding for scientists to perform integrated modeling of acidification, hypoxia, and nutrient inputs in the coastal ocean. The project will enhance current regional oceanographic modeling systems enabling a more comprehensive and consistent evaluation of both anthropogenic and climatic perturbations on near-shore physical, chemical, and biological conditions.
- California Natural Resources Agency
- West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel