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SLC approves negative declaration allowing "Montrose Restoration Reef" to move forward

by The Sportfishing Conservancy 1 Mar 2018 12:26 UTC
Restoration reef area - Palos Verdes © The Sportfishing Conservancy

In the early 2000's, a number of southern California fishing interests met with the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) at their South West Region office in Long Beach. We were there to provide input on how best to make the local recreational and subsistence fishing public whole in the face of the environmental nightmare wrought by the Montrose Chemical Company.

From the 1940's through the 1970's Montrose had used the White's Point outfall to dump thousands of tons of DDT and PCBs into the Southern California Bight. Their discharges contaminated sediment and local fish stocks and in 2001 the Montrose Settlement Restoration Program (MSRP) was established to mitigate for losses to (among other things) traditional recreational and subsistence fishing adjacent to the outfall and beyond.

By the time we met with NMFS, the settlement fund had been established and the seabird portion was well underway in carving up their share of the fund. For their part, NMFS was working on ways to build an artificial reef to help mitigate loss to local fishers, primarily shore and pier fishers in San Pedro and Long Beach. While permitting an artificial reef has rarely been quick in California, upon leaving the meeting I remember mentioning to associate, Bob Osborn, that despite the overwhelming need, just how slow this reef project was coming. That was fifteen years ago!

This past Tuesday in Oakland the State Lands Commission requested additional monitoring, then approved a "negative declaration," thereby giving its blessing to the creation of an artificial reef designed to restore lost rocky reef habitat on the Palos Verdes Shelf. Funding for this project comes from the MSRP and while nearly 20 years in the making is a welcome step in the right direction. I had the opportunity to testify on its behalf, but want to recognize the work of Southern California Marine Institute's Director, Dan Pondella.

Dan has gone the extra mile to make this possible. Understand that all the usual suspects have been involved in getting this far, but without Dan's scientific and fisheries background and most importantly, determination, we might be facing another couple of decades before getting any action.

All this being said, there is still work ahead before the first quarry rock is placed on the Palos Verdes Shelf. But the important thing to understand is that the Lands Commission, including California Lieutenant Governor (and potential Governor) Gavin Newsom, gave their blessing. This is a big step in augmenting and restoring valuable marine habitat. Thank you Dan, State Lands, the SCMI and all who helped.

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